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Factors to focus on when discussing driving with seniors

on Monday, 24 January 2022. Posted in Local News

Factors to focus on when discussing driving with seniors

    Around 45 million licensed drivers on the roads today are age 65 and older.

    Driving is one way for seniors to stay independent and live fuller lives, but traffic crashes are a leading cause of injury and death for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older adults are more than twice as likely than younger drivers to report having medical conditions that make it difficult to drive, and usage of certain medications can further affect the ability to drive safely.

     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges older drivers, friends and family to talk about driving safety. The following are some points to emphasize during such discussions.

• Physical fitness: Driving is more than just understanding road signs and how the car works. Safe driving requires sufficient physical fitness to operate a vehicle. Exercising and being active by walking daily, stretching and performing strength-training exercises can make it easier to steer and get in and out of the car.

• Seat belts: Seat belts save countless lives. Some older drivers may have grown up during a time when seat belts were not standard on vehicles and may not recognize the importance of wearing them. However, seat belts are crucial each and every time drivers get behind the wheel.

• Vision checkups: The CDC recommends that adults have their vision checked by an eye doctor at least once per year. Corrective lenses or glasses also should be worn if they are needed to improve vision.

• Medications management: Individuals should exercise caution when taking medications, especially sleep and pain medications. Even cold remedies can affect driver safety, advises the Mayo Clinic. Always read medication labels and pharmacy inserts to determine if it’s safe drive while on a given medication.

• Limitations and modifications: Getting older may come with certain physical limitations that can be remedied with a few modifications. An occupational therapist may be able to recommend assistive devices, such as steering wheel covers that make gripping the wheel easier, or a swiveling seat pad to make getting out of a vehicle less strenuous.

   Aging drivers and their families can focus on various factors to keep such motorists safe when they’re behind the wheel. TF21C569.