Remember that feeling as a teenager the first time you climbed behind the steering wheel, experiencing the exhilaration of the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted? The freedom that the ability to drive grants us is beyond compare! Nonetheless, as we grow older, a number of factors will come into play that impact the safety of senior drivers, such as:
- Vision or hearing problems
- Weakened/stiffened muscles and joints
- Slowed reflexes and reaction time
- Medication side effects
- Dementia and other chronic health issues
For the elderly who would like to continue to stay in the driver’s seat, these tips can help:
- To start with, visit the doctor for a comprehensive physical to make sure that any of the issues above are addressed and remedied, and also to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe activity. Then adhere to a schedule of continuous checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The doctor may also encourage an exercise regimen to improve physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength that are essential for the tasks fundamental in driving (turning to look 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 modify driving times accordingly. For example, if a bedtime prescription causes sleepiness for about 12 hours, be sure to restrict driving to times when the medication is no longer in your system.
- Consider what style of vehicle is likely to be safest and most comfortable. A plethora of technological gadgets may cause more confusion and distraction than ease and comfort for seniors. For some, a smaller car is easiest to maneuver, while others may want something bigger and sturdier.
- Pay attention to weather and road conditions. Driving when it’s dark, especially when it is raining, can be particularly challenging for those diagnosed with underlying visual changes.
- Consider checking into a senior driving refresher course, which will not only provide helpful tips specific to elderly drivers, but usually also provides a discounted rate on car insurance when completed.
Always remember as well that there’s always an additional option to maintain independence and freedom: partnering with Anthem Home Care, a Portland senior care provider for the surrounding areas. Our highly skilled caregivers are available in accordance with each senior’s requested destinations and routines, whether that involves religious services each weekend, Wednesday afternoon hair appointments, Saturday lunch dates with friends, or possibly an extended trip.
Our goal is not to take control, but to provide the support necessary to empower older adults to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and to take pleasure in living life how they decide. Reach out to us today at 361-643-2323 to ask about our customized senior care and for more information on our transportation services. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities we serve.