Senior Driving-- Understanding How Age Affects Driving

On Monday, we gave you an introduction to senior driving, discussing statistics such as the rise in elderly drivers and the number of motor vehicle accidents involving seniors.

As we mentioned, statistics like these raise concern over whether or not certain measures should be taken to help ensure the safety of our loved ones who wish to drive in their old age.

However, there are steps that older adults can take to maintain their independence.

One such step has to do with understanding how age affects driving. As we age, we may experience certain physical and mental impairments, which can drastically affect how we drive.

So today, we’re going to outline some of the impacts of aging that may cause certain physical and mental impairments, and how they can affect driving. Take a look below for a few tips adapted from HelpGuide.org:

Physical impairments

Pain or stiffness. Arthritis, body pains, and general stiffness in our joints can cause a lot of discomfort when it comes to doing everyday tasks, and this is can be especially true when we get behind the wheel of a car.

As a result, doing certain tasks necessary for driving can prove to be rather difficult. Here are just a few activities affected by pain or stiffness:

  • Extending our legs to step on the gas pedal or brake,
  • Turning around to look for oncoming vehicles on all sides of the car.
  • Turning the steering wheel
  • Sitting in one spot for a long period of time

Vision. Vision, of course, is also another important element of driving. As we age, our vision can be impaired due to a wide variety of eye diseases and disorders, making it difficult for us do things such as properly read road signs, traffic signals, construction/detour warnings, as well as see other traffic and pedestrians. This in turn increases the risk of injury, not only for our aging parents, but for others on the road as well.

Body strength. Similar to body pain/stiffness, body strength can also be a factor that can affect the way we drive. As we age, muscle mass can significantly decrease, making it difficulty to perform certain tasks such as lifting ourselves into larger vehicles like SUVs, or fully turning the steering wheel quickly and effectively at sharp turns.

Mental impairments

Memory loss/difficulty concentrating. Mental health can also be affected by age, leading to impairments such as memory loss or difficulty concentrating.

In turn, we may experience difficulty remembering the directions of familiar routes, decreased awareness of our surroundings, or slower reaction time in emergency situations, all of which can increase the risk of injury.

How we age can certainly affects the way we drive, which is why it is important to understand all elements of the aging process. On Friday, we will continue our discussion on senior driving by outlining ways to maintain independence. As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your loved one, please feel free to give us a call. We’d love to help you.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living “currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa “provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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“Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.private-duty.pchhc.com.”