Our driving abilities change as we age. Think back to when you were a new driver in your teens. You were probably fearless behind the wheel; perhaps taking unnecessary risks with speed or ignoring common driving rules and etiquette. As you became an adult and had a family, you likely became a more conservative driver who followed the rules of the road. Now as you are entering your senior years, you may have noticed you are once again making adjustments to your driving habits.
As we age, it’s important we take greater care with our driving habits. Fatal car crashes rise when a driver reaches the age of 70. Factors including medications, vision concerns, slow motor functions, and hearing impairment make driving more challenging as we age. Here are some tips you can keep in mind to ensure your safety and the safety of others when driving.
1. Get your eyesight and hearing checked. Ensure your vision is clear, that you are wearing the proper eyeglasses, and that you can adequately hear noises around you. Wear a hearing aid if necessary to ensure you can hear properly.
2. Consult with your doctor regarding medications and health conditions. Some medications and health concerns can affect your ability to drive safely. Talk with your physician to ensure there are no conflicts with the prescription drugs you are taking.
3. Get enough sleep. Ensuring you have a full night’s sleep will help you to be alert and aware as you drive.
4. Choose the right car. A car with automatic transmission, power steering and brakes makes the work of driving easier.
5. Be a defensive driver. Today’s drivers have many more distractions beyond just the radio. Cell phones, GPS, digital music players, and more make it difficult to concentrate on the road. Pay extra attention so you can avoid accidents.
When driving becomes difficult have the courage to admit you need help. While it’s difficult to give up driving yourself around town, it may be the best thing for your safety. You don’t have to become a shut in or move to a senior center if you no longer drive. Family, friends and elder care professionals can help you run errands or get to appointments.
Elder care agencies, like Visiting Angels, make it easy for seniors to give up driving without giving up their independence. “Our elder care professionals understand how difficult it can be to give up driving. With the assistance of our elder care professionals, Visiting Angels care recipients are able to continue enjoying their favorite activities, go shopping and visit their doctor,” explains Larry Meigs, President and CEO of Visiting Angels.
By paying close attention to their abilities and limitations most seniors are able to continue driving well into their 70s and beyond. If you are concerned about your ability to drive safely, talk to a family member, friend or your physician about what your next steps should be. If you are no longer driving, call your local Visiting Angels office to schedule an elder care professional to provide the assistance you need.