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Promoting Safe Driving in the Senior Years

By Carol White, 9:00 am on July 25, 2016

Most seniors want to continue driving for as long as possible because it helps them stay independent. However, certain age-related health conditions and medications may make it dangerous for them to be on the road. If your elderly loved one wants to stay behind the wheel, Prescott, AZ, elder care experts recommend taking a few measures to ensure he or she can do so safely.

Assess Medications and Health Conditions

Many prescription medications cause drowsiness or other side effects that can impair the ability to drive. Be aware of the medications your loved one is taking. Talk to a pharmacist or doctor about any possible side effects or interactions, and ask if any of your loved one’s medications can affect the ability to drive. If your loved one has had a stroke or exhibits signs of cognitive impairment, talk to his or her primary care doctor about a referral to a specialist who can evaluate your loved one’s abilities.

Observe Driving Behaviors

Take a drive with your loved one at the wheel, and be on the lookout for signs of potential driving problems, including:

  • Driving too slow or too fast
  • Making improper lane changes
  • Having close calls
  • Using one foot on the gas and another on the brake
  • Getting disoriented, anxious, or frustrated

You can also check with the Prescott Motor Vehicles Department to see if it offers independent driving evaluations for elderly drivers.

Plan for the Unexpected

Try to head off driving problems before they arise. For example, make sure your loved one’s vehicle is well maintained by getting it serviced regularly and ensuring there is plenty of gas, oil, tire pressure, and a good spare in case of a flat. A cellphone and a membership in a roadside assistance program can also provide peace of mind in the event of an emergency.

Set Limits

Have a conversation with your loved one about situations he or she should avoid when driving. For example, it may be dangerous for your loved one to drive at night, in bad weather, or on busy freeways. Encourage your loved one to use public transportation when it is not safe to drive, or hire a part-time or live-in caregiver in Prescott to provide transportation.

If your loved one is no longer able to drive safely, consider hiring a caregiver from Home Care Assistance to help. Our experienced caregivers are available around the clock to provide transportation to medical appointments and social events, and they can also assist with a variety of important tasks around the house. In addition to our hourly and live-in care services, we also offer specialized stroke, Parkinson’s, and dementia home care Prescott families trust. For more information on our elderly care services and to schedule a free consultation, call 928-771-0105 today.