Most people take driving for granted, but as they get older, driving can become more dangerous and a topic for discussion. Keeping older adult drivers on the road longer should be a goal as long as they can drive safely. With the following tips, you can help keep your elderly loved one driving longer and enjoying life while staying safe, all at the same time.
Get Your Vision Checked
Depending on your loved one’s age, they should have their vision checked yearly and go no more than two years without a check up. Eye doctors can detect and correct many vision issues such as cataracts with fairly simple outpatient surgery.
Surgery isn’t always the solution to a vision problem in an older adult. Corrective lenses may also help the issue. Your loved one just may need a new prescription for their eyeglasses or contacts each year. Finally, anti-reflective lenses can help reduce glare and make seeing a little easier when driving. Good vision will make safe driving for older adults just that much easier.
Take a Hearing Test
As people age, their reaction times can slow down. This is partially due to failing vision and hearing. That is why both should be checked regularly. It’s best for seniors to have their hearing checked at least once every three years. Keeping the inside of the car as quiet as possible will help reduce distractions, as well.
Know Your Medications
As people age, they tend to take more medications, typically for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Many of these drugs or drug combinations can come with side effects. That is why it is important for your loved one, and you as the family caregiver, to have a clear understanding of the medications and how they may affect the senior adult and their ability to drive safely.
Be sure to watch out for medications that cause drowsiness or can make a person feel dizzy. Also, as the family caregiver, talk to their doctor about your loved one’s medical conditions and if and how the medications will affect their ability to drive.
Pay Attention to Driving Conditions
If your loved one has trouble seeing after dark, then it is best they stick to daylight hours to drive. It is also important to keep an eye on weather conditions. If it calls for rain or snow or other inclement weather that will make senior driving safety and road conditions less than stellar, then do have backup plans such as public transportation or having a family member drive.
Take a Driving Refresher Course
Taking a motor vehicle safety for seniors course can help boost your loved one’s confidence behind the wheel. It can also give them an outlet to ask questions or raise concerns that they might be hesitant to bring up with a family member.
Driving safety for seniors is more than just about being able to drive. It is about the sense of mobility and independence that one gains from the ability to drive. For many seniors, when they can no longer drive, they feel a true sense of loss. It marks the beginning of a new and less independent phase of their life. That’s why it is important to try to keep the seniors in your life driving and driving safely for as long as possible.
If you have a story about yourself or a loved one whose driving was affected by aging, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.