Remember that feeling as a teenager when you first climbed behind the steering wheel, experiencing the exhilaration of being able to go wherever you wanted? The freedom that being able to drive offers us is beyond compare! However, as we get older, a number of factors can come into play that affect the safety of a senior driver, such as:
- Vision or hearing issues
- Weakened/stiffened muscles and joints
- Slowed down reflexes and reaction time
- Medication side effects
- Dementia and other chronic health issues
For older adults who wish to continue to stay in the driver’s seat, these guidelines may help.
- First of all, see the doctor for a detailed physical to be certain that any of the issues above are addressed and remedied, and also to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe activity. Then follow a schedule of regular checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The doctor can also suggest an exercise regimen to improve physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength which 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.).
- Review all medications being taken and their potential side effects, and adjust driving times accordingly. For instance, if a bedtime prescription causes sleepiness for up to 12 hours, make sure to limit driving to times when the medication is not any longer in your body.
- Consider carefully what sort of vehicle might be safest and most comfortable. A number of technological gadgets may cause more distress and distraction than comfort and ease for some older adults. For some, a smaller sized car is easiest to maneuver, while others may want something more sizeable and sturdier.
- Observe weather and road conditions. Driving when it’s dark, especially if it’s raining, is often particularly challenging for seniors with underlying visual changes.
- Investigate a senior driving refresher course, which will not only offer useful information specific to senior drivers, but may also provide a lower rate on car insurance when completed.
Keep in mind as well that there’s always an additional solution to safeguard independence and freedom: partnering with Hearts at Home In-Home Care for safe, dependable, transportation services. Our skilled caregivers are available in accordance with each senior’s preferred destinations and routines, whether that involves religious services each weekend, Tuesday morning hair appointments, Saturday lunch dates with friends, or even an extended trip.
Our goal is never to take over, but to provide the support needed to empower seniors to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and to enjoy living life the way they decide. Email or call us today at 913-440-4209 to ask about a no-cost in-home consultation for additional details on our transportation services and top-rated home care assistance in Kansas City and the surrounding communities.