How Does Aging Affect Driving?


It takes more than having a driver’s license to drive.  As we age, a variety of issues can limit our ability to drive. Some limiting factors include:

*Mobility problems.  As we get older, we become less flexible.  Our range of motion decreases and we probably have arthritis. Some other chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes can limit our movements. This can make it difficult to look over our shoulder to change lanes or move our leg to switch between the gas pedal and the brake pedal.

*Reaction time slows with age.  This is a naturally occurring development.  It becomes harder to realize the car ahead of you has slown down or you may not be quick to spot someone coming from a side street or out of a driveway. 

*Vision decline.  With age, our vision declines.  Our eyes need three times more light than we needed as young adults just to see.  That makes night time driving much more difficult. With age also come cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. 

*Hearing problems.  We all develop a degree of hearing loss as we get older. By the time we’re 65, one third of us are affected.  This makes it harder to hear warning sounds around us like honking cars or ambulance sirens.

*Medications.  As our health declines, we take more medications.  Some medications when mixed with each other or combined with alcohol can decrease our ability to drive because they affect our senses and reflexes.

*Memory issues.  As we age a certain degree of forgetfulness is normal. In addition, our ability to multi-task decreases. This can make it difficult to pay attention to a variety of things going on at the same time while we are driving.  When these memory issues become more severe, as in an early sign of dementia, our ability to drive is greatly reduced.

Having one or two of these risk factors doesn’t mean you need to stop driving.  Everyone ages differently and it may be that you can drive into your 80’s or 90’s. If the number  of these risk factors increases, it does mean you need to reassess whether or not you should be behind the wheel.

Do you know of anything else that makes it harder for you to drive?  Comment below.

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, companionship, Farmington Hills, Health care services, Home Care, House Keeping, Medication Reminder, Personal care, Senior Care, Transportation, Uncategorized, West Bloomfield

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