Thursday, 10 October 2013 00:00

The Elderly and Driving Featured

Safe driving requires fast reactions and good judgment. Another vehicle could pull out, causing the need for a driver to take defensive maneuvers to avoid an accident. As the body ages, health issues can arise that might make it unsafe to drive. Eyesight can deteriorate, reflexes aren’t as quick, and medication can even influence the senior’s awareness of the road and surrounding drivers. It is important to know when to give up the car keys so that no potentially deadly accidents take place.

Check Medications

Medications can greatly influence a driver’s ability to assess the road for potential dangers and to react quickly. Certain medications can cause bouts of dizziness and can seriously impair the driver’s reaction time. It is important for caregivers to check any medications the senior driver is taking and find out what side effects might occur. The caregiver should also speak with the senior’s healthcare provider and discuss whether it is safe to drive on the medications.

Get a Physical

As a person ages, the body does as well. Eyesight can weaken, hearing can lessen, and reactions become slower. If a caregiver suspects that it is not safe for a senior to drive, the caregiver should schedule a physical with a doctor. The physical should cover an eye exam, hearing test, as well as a comprehensive physical including reflex testing. After the healthcare provider has assessed the physical condition of the senior, a responsible decision can be made about the senior continuing to drive.

Look at Recent Driving History

Recent driving history can play a large part in whether a senior should continue driving or not. An increase in tickets or accidents, including small fender benders, can mean that the driver’s reaction time and reflexes has decreased. Even if there are no reported incidents, the caregiver can take a ride with the senior. The caregiver should then assess whether the senior follows all of the rules of the road and reacts appropriately to surrounding traffic.