Safe driving tips for older adults – The Altamont Enterprise
Driving is an everyday part of our lives that allows us to travel easily to the places we need to go. Being able to drive gives us the freedom and independence to enjoy a multitude of activities or simply get tasks done.
Unfortunately, our ability to drive is affected as we age, especially after we turn 65. We begin to experience medical conditions and undergo physical and cognitive changes that make driving a more hazardous task.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day about 700 older adults are injured in a car crash. Thus, it’s important that we become more vigilant and careful drivers for not only our own safety, but others around us.
Here are some helpful driving tips from the CDC to assist older adults stay safe on the road:
— Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, it’s important to always wear a seat belt. It’s one of the best ways to lower the chances of getting hurt;
— Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol has negative effects on cognition, coordination, and judgement skills that impact driving;
— Exercise is important in all facets of health. Being active helps us maintain our ability to control a vehicle and remain alert on the road;
— As we get older, various medical conditions may interfere with our driving ability. It’s important to consult a physician to see how they may alter our driving skills and seek treatments that keep us healthy and allow us to safely stay on the road;
— Ask your physician or pharmacist about your medications’ side effects as some may cause drowsiness, blurry vision, dizziness, and confusion. It’s also important to ask how your medications may interact with one another and what occurs when you stop or change that medication. This allows you to be aware of any unwanted effects on your driving. If any of your medications impair your driving, try asking your physician if it’s possible to stop or change your medication;
— Check your vision yearly with your doctor. Ensure you’re wearing your glasses or contact lenses while driving. It’s also important to check your hearing at least once every three years after the age 50. Wear any necessary hearing aids while driving;
— Drive cautiously. As we get older, our reflexes and reaction time get worn down. It’s important to maintain a safe distance between the car in front of you and your own. Reduce any distractions in the car. While driving, avoid talking, being on the phone and loud music;
— Plan where and when you drive before going out. Drive during the day, during good weather, and on well-lit streets. Avoid driving when it’s night time, snowing, raining, or icy outside as this increases the chances of potentially getting in an accident;
— Avoid driving while you’re drowsy. According to the CDC, driving while sleep deprived is similar to driving under the influence. Ensure you are getting between seven and nine hours of quality sleep; and
— Finally, consider a substitute for driving. Instead of driving by yourself, consider carpooling with family or friends. Albany also offers some great public transportation options.
Community Caregivers is a not-for-profit agency supported by community donations, and grants from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Department of Health, and the Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging.
Editor’s note: Hyun Ah Michelle Yoon is a Community Caregivers student volunteer, slated to graduate from Albany Medical College in 2024.
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Albany County, New York