The loss of a driver’s license can be devastating for seniors. That little plastic card has represented freedom and independence for the last 50, 60, or 70 years of their life. It is widely understood that driving abilities change as people get older, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it becomes dangerous. There are many ways to reduce risk factors and implement safe driving practices as people age. As long as they are cognizant of warning signs, and willing to make adjustments when necessary, elderly people can drive long into their senior years.
Here are a few tips for senior drivers and their loved ones to consider:
- Understand how the process of aging can affect driving: Everyone ages differently, so there is no magic age at which one can no longer safely drive. Pay attention to how aging is affecting you. Do you have pain or stiffness in your neck that may make it difficult to look over your shoulder before changing lanes? Does weakened arm strength make it difficult to turn the wheel quickly? Have you noticed a diminished reaction time in your day to day activities?
- Get an annual eye exam
- Get an annual hearing exam
- Consult with your doctor: Ask about ailments, or about medications you are taking. Could any of them have an adverse affect on your ability to drive? Are there any available products or resources to help counter these negative effects? For example, tinted sunglasses may reduce the glare if you suffer from glaucoma.
- Get plenty of sleep
- Make sure you have the right car for your needs: Does your car have power steering and power brakes? Is it an automatic or manual transmission? Get regular maintenance, and make sure your windshield is always clean. If you need certain equipment to make the car easier to operate, an occupational therapist can prescribe this equipment.
- Be a defensive driver: Today’s drivers are shockingly distracted – texting, looking at their GPS, even watching movies on their smart phones or iPads. You must drive defensively to drive safely on today’s roads. Leave plenty of space between your car and the car in front of you and be extra cautious at intersections.
- Know your limits: If driving after dark is becoming difficult, or if you are terrified to drive in rain or snow, listen to your gut. Voluntarily making adjustments to your driving habits is responsible behavior and it will help you retain your ability to drive for as long as possible.
- Listen to your loved ones: It may be hard to accept, but your loved ones usually have your best interest in mind when they express concern about driving ability. If you feel that their concerns are unfounded, there are several self-evaluation tools available online to assist you. It is possible that you just need a refresher course. Your doctor can also help by providing an unbiased opinion. However, if all signs point to “no,” it may be wise to listen to your loved ones. The termination of your driver’s license does not mean the end of your independence. In fact, with today’s resources for seniors, the loss of a license often comes with numerous social benefits.
Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin P.C.
Elder law is a complex, emotional area of the legal system because it involves making difficult decisions on behalf of the people who mean a great deal to us. We understand the emotional toll these decisions can take. However, elder law is very different today than 10 or 20 years ago. Seniors are working, traveling, and driving for much longer. Sometimes there is an unfair bias toward elderly drivers, and then again, sometimes the concerns are valid. If you are concerned about the driving ability of a loved one, we can help. Call the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin for a free consultation today.