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Driving Safely As You Age

Driving Safely As You Age

driving safely as you ageDriving gives us our independence and the ability to go about our everyday lives. However, as we age, driving safely may become a difficult task due to a variety of health-related reasons.

Aging affects driving

As we age, we may not even realize our driving abilities decrease, but there are a few age-related issues that can, and do, severely inhibit our abilities:

  • Visual impairments – these include glaucoma, cataracts, even macular degeneration which make it difficult to see, especially at dusk or during the night.
  • Hearing impairments – hearing loss to some degree is inevitable, this can lead to our inability to hear emergency sirens or car horns.
  • Joint pain – arthritis may make gripping the steering wheel or moving our head and body to see around certain objects outside of the vehicle difficult.
  • Memory loss – forgetting a familiar route or getting lost while driving can create elevated stress levels, and forgetting certain rules of the road may also pose a risk to you and other drivers.

In addition to our aging, certain medications may decrease the ability to operate a vehicle, increasing the risk for injury.

Warning signs it is time to stop driving

If you, or a parent, exhibit some of these warning signs while driving, it may be time to reconsider driving rights:

  • Getting lost while running normal errands (i.e. going to the grocery store, visiting friends and family)
  • Poor judgment while driving or not following rules of the road
  • Near miss situations or even multiple accidents, either in parking lots or on the road

Approaching a parent for “the talk” about driving safely and driving alternatives

Since driving is a form of independence, we will often fight to retain that ability. However, there may come a time when sitting down and evaluating whether that independence is worth the risk of serious injury. Unfortunately, in some cases, it is not until after a serious car accident does and older adult decide to give up driving.

Having the conversation sooner rather than later is advisable, even if it is just a short conversation of testing the water. And bringing up these alternatives can give hope instead of completely removing the independence:

  • Public transportation such as buses or light rails can assist with transportation
  • Transportation services such as vanpools provided by local hospitals, cities, or even non-profit organizations can help
  • A family member can schedule a weekly errands run and help drive to locations such as the grocery store, doctor appointments, or even just for fun.

Driving evaluation and classes

We understand your independence is vital to your well-being, but sometimes it is important to recognize when it’s time to give up driving. If you are interested in scheduling a driver evaluation and cognition, vision, strength, and reaction time assessment, please feel free to contact our Good to Go program at 760.940.7866.

This program is designed to help those who have experienced a stroke, suffer from mild Alzheimer’s, dementia, arthritis, or other age-related medical problems.

Or visit our Good to Go driver retraining service page for more information.