We spend a large amount of time in our vehicles everyday driving from work, to home, and running errands in between. Driving is second nature to many of us who have driving since the age of 16, 17 or 18. However, as we approach our senior years, we may not realize how much certain part of our driving skills become impaired, such as vision, hearing and reaction time.
This is why it is important that we make sure our elderly parents and grandparents, if they are still driving, are doing so as safely as possible.
This can sometimes be a challenge as older individuals may resist listening to your advice for the following reasons:
- They have been driving for such a long time that they think they need no advice
- They are simply unaware of their deteriorating driving skills, thinking they still drive as well as they did 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
- They may simply resist taking advice from their children, grandchildren and others from younger generations than them.
However, to keep them safe, it is is imperative you know that they can manage driving by themselves. This article will provide helpful tips to ensure your parents, grandparents or other elders are able to drive safely.
#1. What medications are they taking?
Many elderly take medications, such as those for heart disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Typically, these medications come with some sort of side effects, and taking several medications at once (which is not uncommon for seniors) can increase those side effects.
A common side effect of some medications is drowsiness. So you’ll want to make sure that if your elders are taking any medications that can make them sleepy, that they don’t drive soon after taking them. Consult with their doctors or pharmacist to determine how long to wait to drive after taking each of their medications.
#2. Check their vision
It is recommended that older drivers have their vision checked at least every one to two years. Our eyesight is the single the most important part of driving safely. If you can’t see well enough to drive safely, you should not be driving.
In addition to safe driving, having regular vision checks for the elderly can help them stay on top of any developing problems with their eyes. That way doctors can perform any necessary procedures or perscribe the right eye glasses to ensure your seniors maintain their vision as well as possible.
If your elderly wear glasses when driving, they should wear anti-reflective lenses, as this improves driving safety by reducing glare when facing into the sun.
#3. Check their hearing
Just like our vision, our hearing needs to be checked as we get older. Since hearing loss happens gradually over time, it is easy for us to not even realize we don’t hear as well as we used to. For you elderly, it’s best to have their hearing checked at least every three years.If doctors find hearing loss, they may be able to provide hearing aids to improve their hearing.
If hearing seniors continue driving with hearing problems, they greatly increase their chances of an accident and serious injury to themselves and others. For example, if there are paramedics, firefighters, or police rushing to a scene, your senior could prevent them from getting to accident scene by blocking their path simply because they did not hear the sirens. Also, by failing to hear a honking car or other noise around the, your parents or grandparents could easily get into a dangerous accident.
Regarding hearing while driving, it is a good practice to keep the radio volume from being too high. (This is not just good for seniors, but drivers of all ages.)
#4. Take a senior driving course
After you've checked their vision, hearing, and are aware of any medications and side effects, you should consider having your elderly complete a senior driving course. This is a great tool to make sure their driving abilities are still sufficient and safe for both themselves and others on the road. These tests will also provide seniors with tips and information that will help improve their driving.
There are always going to be safety hazard inherent in driving. These dangers can easily become magnified for the elderly. So if your senior loved ones are still driving, you should do all you can to make sure that they are as safe as possible while behind the wheel, both for their sake as well as that of others. Following the four steps above can go a long way in increasing the safety of your elderly loved ones who still drive.
If your loved one or elder needs in-home assistance with their daily routines, we are here to help. Give Home Vitaliy Care a call at 281-580-9955 or contact us online.