Age alone is not a reason to prevent someone from driving. After all, everyone ages (despite our best efforts to the contrary), and many of us continue to drive safely well into the golden years.
However, aging does bring with it certain changes to our physical and mental health, which we must address.
While driving may seem as easy as breathing after all these years, many complicated processes actually take place simultaneously as we drive.
We are constantly scanning for danger, processing multiple sources of information and determining what requires our immediate attention, coordinating what our eyes see to what our hands and feet must do and so on.
So, take the time to consider how your body and mind are changing, and what you can do to increase your comfort and safety on the road.
Our eyes are the number one way we gather and interpret information while driving. Our vision allows us to see hazards and react in a timely fashion to prevent accidents.
Some changes to our vision while aging may include:
These changes require a discussion with your eye specialist to determine if corrections may be made to improve your vision, if restrictions are needed on your license, or if it may be time to find other transportation.
Our ears are another way we gather and interpret information. If you frequently find people needing to repeat themselves or require a much higher volume on audio devices, you may want to explore options for correcting your hearing.
These conditions make it more difficult for you to quickly turn the wheel, step on the brakes or look over your shoulder.
These skills are important in protecting yourself and others while driving, especially in emergency situations.
If you have lost significant mobility, reaction time, or strength you may need to speak with your physician about retesting for, restricting or giving up driving privileges.
Any impairment of your mind will negatively impact safe driving. Dementia is the most serious of the cognitive disorders.
It is extremely hard to diagnose and even more difficult to get the individual to recognize a problem. Most cognitive impairments are progressive, so consistent monitoring is required.
The following are some cases/causes of cognitive impairments: