Remember that feeling as a teen when you first climbed behind the steering wheel, experiencing the exhilaration of being in a position to go anywhere you wanted? The freedom that being able to drive offers us is beyond compare! However, as we get older, a range of factors come into play that influence senior drivers’ safety, such as:
- Vision or hearing problems
- Weakened/stiffened muscles and joints
- Slowed down reflexes and reaction time
- Medication side effects
- Dementia along with other chronic health problems
To help keep senior drivers safely behind the wheel, the following tips can help.
- Most importantly, see the doctor for a complete physical to be certain that any of the issues above are addressed and remedied, as well as to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe activity. Then stay on a schedule of regular checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The doctor may also encourage a fitness regimen to increase physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength which are typically required for the tasks inherent in driving (turning to check over your shoulder, twisting the steering wheel, pressing the gas and brake pedals, etc.).
- Assess all medications being taken and their potential side effects, and adjust driving times appropriately. For example, if a bedtime prescription causes sleepiness for up to 12 hours, make sure to limit driving to times when the medication is no longer in your system.
- Think about what kind of vehicle may be safest and most comfortable. An array of technological gadgets could cause more frustration and distraction than ease and comfort for some older adults. For some, a smaller sized car is easiest to maneuver, while others may opt for something more sizeable and sturdier.
- Closely examine weather and road conditions. Driving at night, specifically when it’s raining, can be especially challenging for seniors with underlying visual changes.
- Look into a senior driving refresher course, which will not only provide helpful tips specific to elderly drivers, but usually also provides a lower rate on car insurance when completed.
Remember as well that there’s always an additional solution to maintain independence: partnering with Home With You Senior Care, providers of home care in Ellicott City and the surrounding areas, for personal and engaging senior care. Our highly trained caregivers can provide companionship, enrichment activities, meal preparation and so much more.
Our intent is never to take control, but to provide the support essential to empower the elderly to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and also to enjoy living life the way they decide. Email or call us today at 410-756-0959 to ask about a no-cost in-home assessment for more information regarding our top-rated home care in Ellicott City and the surrounding communities.