4 Health Risks for Senior Drivers to Consider
By June Brown
Have you noticed a change in the way you have been driving? Does your family express their feelings of concern every time you are behind the wheel?
Health problems such as slow reflexes, loss of vision, and dementia are all common risks among elder drivers today. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 40 million drivers over 65 years old in 2015.
While driving may help seniors stay independent, the risk of vehicle accidents increases as you age. Despite the known health risks among senior drivers, many are unable to recognize their limitations. As people get older, there are changes that can happen – with joints, vision, sensation, and even reaction. That is why is it important to follow road safety and maintain your health.
Here are four health risks every senior driver should consider:
1. Joint Pain and Muscles
Conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis are common among seniors and might affect your ability to drive safely. As you age, your muscles and joints may start to get stiff. Loss of range of motion can make it harder for you to focus on the road.
2. Hearing Trouble
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three senior adults over the age of 70 has a difficulty in hearing. Yet, only 30 percent of seniors use hearing aids. This might make it harder to notice sirens, horns, or even risky noises coming from your vehicle. Be sure to have your hearing checked every 12 months.
3. Poor Visual Eyesight
Elder adults might find it difficult to see people, objects, and movements in their direct line of sight. Another common visual issue is being unable to read traffic or street signs. If you are taking medication for eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma, it may be wise to cut back on your driving or avoid driving at night and during the hours of sunrise and sunset.
4. Slow Reflexes and Reaction
Perhaps you have a shorter attention span than you’ve once had. That’s because your reflexes are getting slower as your age. As a result, you might not be able to react as quickly as you should. If you have suffered from a stroke or have Parkinson’s diseases, the loss of feeling or tingling in the fingers will make it not only difficult to drive, but increase the danger for you and others on the road.
Tips for Senior Driver Safety
Plan your drive
Choose places that are close by and easy to visit
Avoid risky roads
Limit travel time at night
Never drive when you are tired or upset
Always wear your hearing aid or glasses, if you use them
Other Options for Getting Around
If you are worried about not being able to go anywhere when you need to, modern technology has provided new methods of traveling with convenience. Many people are choosing to commute via taxi with companies that offer low-cost services for older adults. With just the touch of a simple app, you can request an Uber ride to your destination, hassle-free.
For seniors, driving is a way of holding on to their freedom and independence. However, there are also risks that could be prevented by taking extra safety measures.
Be sure to have your driving skills checked by a specialist once you notice any changes in the way you drive. Doing so may even save a life.
June Brown is a mother of two who works as a freelance writer and editor, having spent over a decade working in senior care.
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