Remember that feeling as a teen when you first climbed behind the steering wheel, experiencing the exhilaration of being in a position to go anywhere you wanted? The freedom that being able to drive offers us is beyond compare! Nonetheless, once we get older, multiple factors may come into play that impact senior citizen driving safety and confidence, 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 seniors who wish to continue to stay in the driver’s seat, the following tips can really help.
- Most importantly, see the doctor for a full physical to make sure any of the issues above are addressed and remedied, and to get his/her agreement that driving remains a safe option. Then maintain a schedule of recurring checkups, including vision and hearing exams.
- The doctor may also suggest an exercise regimen to improve physical health, including flexibility and muscle strength which are essential for the tasks integral in driving (turning to check over your shoulder, twisting the steering wheel, pressing the gas and brake pedals, etc.).
- Review all medications being taken and their possible side effects, and adjust driving times accordingly. As an example, if a bedtime prescription causes sleepiness for as long as 12 hours, make sure to limit driving to times when the medication is no longer in your body.
- Consider what kind of vehicle might be safest and most comfortable. An array of technological gadgets can result in more frustration and distraction than ease and comfort for some seniors. For some, a smaller sized car is easiest to maneuver, while others may opt for something larger and sturdier.
- Observe weather and road conditions. Driving when it’s dark, especially if it’s raining, is often particularly challenging for those diagnosed with underlying visual changes.
- Look into an older adult driving refresher course, which will not only offer helpful tips specific to older drivers, but frequently also provides a discounted rate on car insurance when completed.
Always remember as well that there’s always another option to protect independence and freedom: partnering with Compassionate Nursing Services, providers of respite care in St. Louis, for safe, reliable, transportation services. Our professional St. Louis home caregivers are available according to each older adult’s desired destinations and routines, whether that involves religious services each weekend, Monday afternoon hair appointments, Saturday lunch dates with friends, or even an extended trip.
Our goal is never to take control, but to provide the support needed to empower seniors to continue to direct the course of their own lives, and to take pleasure in living life how they choose. Email or call us today at 314-432-4312 to ask about a free in-home assessment for more information about our transportation services and respite care in St. Louis and the surrounding areas.