Important Tips for Staying Safe Behind the Wheel


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Have you been worried about your driving? Have your family or friends expressed concern? Changes in your health may affect your driving skills over time. Don't risk hurting yourself or others. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about your health and driving.

Stiff Joints and Muscles

As you age, your joints may get stiff, and your muscles may weaken. Arthritis, which is common among older adults, might affect your ability to drive. These changes can make it harder to turn your head to look back, turn the steering wheel quickly, or brake safely.

  • See your doctor if pain, stiffness, or arthritis seem to get in the way of your driving.
  • If possible, drive a car with automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and large mirrors.
  • Be physically active or exercise to keep and even improve your strength and flexibility.
  • Think about getting hand controls for both the gas and brake pedals if you have leg problems.
     

    Trouble Seeing

    Your eyesight can change as you get older. It might be harder to see people, things, and movement outside your direct line of sight. It may take longer to read street or traffic signs or even recognize familiar places. At night, you may have trouble seeing things clearly. Glare from oncoming headlights or street lights can be a problem. Depending on the time of the day, the sun might be blinding.

    Eye diseases, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as some medicines, can also cause vision problems
     
  • If you are 65 or older, see your eye doctor at least every 1 to 2 years. Ask if there are ways to improve your eyesight.
  • If you need glasses or contact lenses to see far away while driving, make sure your prescription is up-to-date and correct. Always wear them when you are driving.
  • Cut back on or stop driving at night if you have trouble seeing in the dark. Try to avoid driving during sunrise and sunset, when the sun can be directly in your line of vision.

    Trouble Hearing

    As you get older, your hearing can change, making it harder to notice horns, sirens, or even noises coming from your own car. Hearing loss can be a problem because these sounds warn you when you may need to pull over or get out of the way.

  • Have your hearing checked at least every 3 years after age 50.
  • Discuss concerns you have about hearing with your doctor. There may be things that can help.
  • Try to keep the inside of the car as quiet as possible while driving.

  • Other changes or conditions can affect how safe you are on the road, as well. Dementia, slower reaction time and reflexes, and medications can affect your driving ability. 

    Maybe you already know that driving at night, on the highway, or in bad weather is a problem for you. Some older drivers also have problems when yielding the right of way, turning (especially making left turns), changing lanes, passing, and using expressway ramps.

    Safe Driving Tips

    Here are some tips for staying safe behind the wheel as you age:
  • Have your driving skills checked by a driving rehabilitation specialist, occupational therapist, or other trained professional.
  • Take a defensive driving course. Some car insurance companies may lower your bill when you pass this type of class. Organizations like AARP, American Automobile Association (AAA), or your car insurance company can help you find a class near you.
  • When in doubt, don't go out. Bad weather like rain, ice, or snow can make it hard for anyone to drive. Try to wait until the weather is better, or use buses, taxis, or other transportation services.
  • Avoid areas where driving can be a problem. For example, choose a route that avoids highways or other high-speed roadways. Or, find a way to go that requires few or no left turns.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your health problems or medications might make it unsafe for you to drive. Together, you can make a plan to help you keep driving and decide when it is no longer safe to drive. 

    Source: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/older-drivers#joints


    Home Instead Senior Care is a locally owned business. We offer friendly, responsive service where you are, and we're dedicated to making our community a better place to live for seniors and their families. We are part of one of the most highly regarded home care companies in the United States, backed by more than 20 years of experience.  We ensure quality of care first through our unique CAREGiverSM training program. This comprehensive educational experience equips our CAREGivers to provide ethical and individualized care to every person they serve.  Call us to schedule a no-obligation in-home consultation to learn more about the compassionate, quality care we deliver each day to Allentown and Lehigh County area families: (610) 770-7773 or visit https://www.homeinstead.com/217 

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