You gain wisdom with age, as well as potential health and mobility problems that can affect your ability to drive safely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2018, over 45 million adults age 65 or older had valid driver’s licenses, representing a 60% increase since 2000 for this demographic.
If you are an older driver, especially one aged 75 or greater, you need to know the issues you face when you get behind the wheel.
Vision problems can sneak up on you gradually, so ask yourself these questions when driving:
- Do I have difficulty reading street signs, traffic signs, house numbers, etc.?
- Do things look fuzzy at a distance?
- Do I have difficulty seeing clearly on a cloudy day?
- At night, do street lights and oncoming headlights glare?
- Do they have halos around them?
- Do I have difficulty seeing my own driveway when I get home?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, schedule an eye exam immediately if you haven’t had one for a year or more. Annual eye exams can not only ensure your ability to drive for as long as possible but can also help prevent your vision from deteriorating any further.
Hearing problems can likewise sneak up on you gradually. Therefore, think about the noise level inside your vehicle. Do you do any of the following hinder your ability to hear horns, sirens or other road noises?
- Is the radio too loud to hear outside noises?
- Are passengers in my car talking too loud or too much for me to concentrate on the road?
- Does using my cellphone or the noises it makes distract me from other drivers?
If so, you may wish to revise your driving habits. Also, schedule an audiology appointment at least every three years after you reach the age of 65. Between appointments, talk to your primary care physician about any hearing concerns you may have.
Joint and Muscle Issues
As you age, your muscles tend to become weaker, and your joints tend to become stiffer. This is especially true if you suffer from arthritis. When driving, arthritic hands can make it difficult for you to grasp and turn the steering wheel. Arthritic hips or knees can make it difficult for you to brake.
Remaining as physically active as possible helps prevent muscle and joint deterioration. You should also talk to your doctor if you notice your joints becoming stiff or painful. They may be able to suggest or prescribe pain relievers or exercises that will minimize your discomfort.
At Elder Care Alliance, our residents’ health and safety are our primary concerns. If you don’t wish, you don’t have to drive. We have Care Coordinators to help with transportation and on-site drivers to take you where you need to go and leave the driving to us!