Remember that feeling as a teenager when you first climbed behind the steering wheel, that great exhilaration of being able to go wherever you wanted? The freedom that being able to drive grants us is beyond compare! Nonetheless, once we grow older, many different factors can come into play that affect safe driving practices for seniors, including:
- Vision or hearing problems
- Weakened/stiffened muscles and joints
- Sluggish reflexes and reaction time
- Medication side effects
- Dementia along with other chronic health issues
For the elderly who wish to continue to stay in the driver’s seat, these tips can help.
- To begin with, visit the physician for a comprehensive physical to make certain that any of the issues above are taken care of and remedied, and also to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe option. Then stay on a schedule of continuous checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The physician may also recommend an exercise regimen to optimize physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength that are necessary for the tasks integral 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 adjust driving times accordingly. For instance, if a bedtime prescription causes drowsiness for approximately 12 hours, make sure to restrict driving to times when the medication is no longer in your body.
- Consider carefully what type of vehicle might be safest and most comfortable. An array of technological gadgets may cause more confusion and distraction than comfort and ease for some older adults. For some, a smaller car is easiest to maneuver, while others may opt for something more sizeable and sturdier.
- Pay attention to weather and road conditions. Driving at night, especially if it is raining, is often especially difficult for those diagnosed with underlying visual changes.
- Investigate an older adult driving refresher course, which will not just offer helpful suggestions specific to elderly drivers, but commonly also provides a lower rate on auto insurance when completed.
Keep in mind as well that there’s always an additional solution to preserve independence and freedom: partnering with Grace Home Care for safe, reliable, transportation services. Our highly skilled Topeka caregivers are available in accordance with each senior’s preferred destinations and routines, whether that involves religious services each weekend, Tuesday afternoon hair appointments, weekly lunch dates with friends, or even an extended vacation.
Our intent is not to take over, but to make available the support needed to empower the elderly to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and to enjoy living life how they choose. Email or call us at 785-286-2273 to request a free in-home assessment for more information about our transportation services and our professional Topeka caregivers. See our full service area to find a community near you.