Is It Safe To Continue Driving As An Elderly Individual
When does an elderly individual know it is no longer safe to continue driving?
There is no age limit on how long a person can drive. A specific age does not equal a sign of an inability to drive safely.
Many elderly individuals are safe and careful drivers. And it is also encouraged for elderly people to continue driving as long as they can safely do so.
Being able to drive provides them with the ability to maintain their independence and enjoy an active social life.
The ability to drive also allows elderly individuals to stay connected with their loved ones and their communities. These things are very important in maintaining a happier life.
However, as a person ages, they are more susceptible to age-related health issues and disorders. Many of these issues may make it unsafe for an older person to continue driving safely.
Memory Disorders Affecting Elderly Individuals
As a person ages the so-called “senior moments” can happen from time to time.
A funny thing about “senior moments” is that they happen to everyone, regardless of age. However, when those “senior moments” seem to happen on a regular basis, there may be more going on.
Although it may be difficult to admit, elderly individuals are more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. And regular “senior moments” could be a sign of one of these issues.
This can be a difficult thing for many seniors to face. Fortunately, there are facilities that can assist with this part of senior living.
These facilities can provide assistance for seniors to maintain memory and manage their activities of daily living. However, if a senior has developed a memory disorder, driving may become dangerous.
Forgetting where they are or what they are doing while they are driving can pose serious risks of accidents. Those with memory disorders should give up driving to ensure their safety.
Vision and Hearing Loss
As a person ages, vision and hearing loss are very likely. Normal changes in the body as a person ages can diminish visual acuity and hearing.
People of all ages are required to have a certain level of vision before they are able to get a driver’s license. This is true for elderly individuals as well.
As long as their vision can be properly corrected with glasses or other corrective lenses, then driving should be fine. However, when vision problems are severe, adjustments to driving may be necessary.
Some seniors give up night driving due to vision problems as they get older. When their vision becomes worse, all driving must cease.
As for hearing loss, proper hearing is not a requirement for driving and many drive safely every day.
However, if hearing loss is a problem for the elderly individual, this may be a sign that driving is no longer an option.
Elderly Individuals And Medications
As a person ages, more health issues are common and with these increasing health issues often come medications.
Elderly individuals often take a plethora of medications each day. Many of these medications come with a lot of side effects that can pose risks when driving.
Some medications can interact with others and increase side effects such as drowsiness, tremors, and blurred vision, These can have a serious impact on a person’s ability to drive.
It is important for seniors or their loved ones to take notice of these side effects and determine if they can continue driving.
Discuss with their doctor to see changes to the medications can be made. If not then the elderly individual may be unable to continue driving.
Slowed Reaction Time
As a person ages reflexes get significantly slower and an elderly individual won’t react as quickly as they once did.
Other age-related issues can further complicate this. Stiff joints and weakened muscles are common in older people and can further slow reaction times when driving.
Slowed reaction times can make a person more likely to be involved in an accident.
Arthritis is another common condition that elderly individuals face and may make it more difficult to move and react quickly in certain situations.
For many people who face these issues, it may be a good idea to take steps to avoid problems while driving.
This can include giving extra space between them and the vehicle ahead of them and braking earlier than normal when coming to a stop.
Avoiding highways and heavy traffic areas is also a good idea for elderly individuals.
If reaction time and mobility become too difficult to keep up with the demands of driving, it may be time for them to not continue driving.
Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist
If there are signs that an elderly individual is having difficulties with their driving, it may be a good idea to go to a certified driver rehabilitation specialist or CDRS.
The CDRS is an expert driving instructor/occupational therapist that can properly evaluate a person’s driving abilities. They review the elderly individuals driving ability and make a determination as to whether they should continue driving.
If the specialist determines the older driver is still safe, then they can continue driving as usual.
Often, the CDRS will provide skills and assistance to help the elderly individual improve their driving skills. The CDRS may suggest additional safety equipment for the elderly driver to assist with their driving.
If the CDRS determines that the elderly individual is no longer safe behind the wheel, they will recommend driving to stop and offer support in this transition.
Every elderly individual would love to continue to drive as it gives them autonomy and freedom.
Unfortunately, it can be necessary to protect them and other drivers on the road to have them give up their licenses.
Often the elderly individual will feel they have lost their independence and loved ones need to provide care and support during this transition.
Most areas offer public transportation and senior services to help these individuals with transportation to the various places they need or want to go.