If you are taking Aricept, will you be told not to drive?

Krystara asked...

A few questions about Aricept. I have two questions, actually. The first was actually asked by another member of my stage group - if a person is still able to drive, but they start taking Aricept, will they be told NOT to drive? The second is after doing a bit of research to try and help answer that question (which I found no real answer to), I found that generalized, unexplained pain can sometimes be a side effect of Aricept. I have been trying to help my Mother with pain she is feeling in her abdominal area, but after an ultrasound and a CT scan, they can find no reason for her pain (she already had her gallbladder out and her appendix shows normal). One barely needs to touch the spot and she winces in pain. Could this be a side effect of the Aricept? (She has been on it for about three years now.)

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

When someone has dementia, their ability to drive safely can become an issue, especially as the disease progresses. Alzheimer's dementia can contribute to slower reaction times while driving and poor decision making, increasing the risks of accidents and injury. If someone is suspected of having dementia, a driving test should be done to assess their safety behind the wheel. This can be done by occupational therapists or the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. Many states will take away someone's drivers license if they are diagnosed with dementia. However, to answer your first question, taking Aricept is not contraindicated with driving.

Regarding your mother's abdominal pain, Aricept can definitely cause abdominal pain, but it is usually more of a generalized pain. She is complaining of a sore spot on her right side that is so tender it hurts to touch it. Although she has had a normal CT scan, I would be concerned about something going on in her liver, kidney or intestines. If you are really concerned, I would recommend that she see a Gastroenterologist for an in depth evaluation, as they may have some idea of what is causing this pain. Good luck!