We recently received a call for assistance regarding evaluating senior driving ability. Concern can center on age-related declines in vision, mobility and reaction time that can limit driving abilities. The research inspired this blog and gave us the opportunity to share some safety tips and helpful information.
Tips to ensure safe driving abilities:
- Get regular health check-ups. Monitor changes in vision, hearing and mobility by getting regular medical check-ups. If your primary physician or optometrist notices changes, be proactive by following their recommended advice for glasses, hearing aids or other support devices. It is also important to manage any chronic conditions such as diabetes and be aware of what medications you are taking as they may affect your driving abilities.
- Maintain your mobility. Adopt a fitness regimen to ensure your physical ability to drive. One of the most common problems older adults have is properly checking blind spots, so practice exercises that strengthen range of motion in your neck so that you are comfortable turning your head. Yoga and back-strengthening exercises are also helpful so that you can comfortably endure sitting while driving, though it may be best to avoid lengthy car rides.
- Keep your car in good working condition. Regular services, tune-ups and oil changes will ensure your car stays in tip-top shape. In addition, make sure that windshields, mirrors and headlights are clean and that the brightness on the dashboard’s instrument panel is turned all the way up to increase visibility when driving at night.
- Plan ahead. Avoid driving in dangerous weather conditions or when it is dark outside. These conditions may impair visibility and increase the chances of unforeseen obstacles and delays such as accidents, road closures or traffic. Look up where you are going and plan your route ahead of time so that you won’t need to use GPS devices or look at maps while you are driving.
- Take a refresher course.Consider a course designed to help bring drivers up-to-speed on the latest advancements in vehicle technology and how they affect your driving. There may be the incentive of potential discounts on insurance premiums.
- Know your limitations. Avoid any situations that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. For instance, if your hands hurt when turning the wheel, try using a wheel cover that is softer and can be easily gripped. By knowing your limitations, you can be proactive about reducing your risk factors to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Does your car fit you?
CarFit helps mature drivers find their safest fit. Developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) partnership, CarFit’s trained professionals take older drivers through a 20-minute, 12-point checklist with their vehicle, recommending minor adjustments that help make your car “fit” better for comfort and safety. CarFit uses a trained team to assist older drivers with items such as:
- A clear line of sight over the steering wheel
- Adequate space between the front airbag/steering wheel and the driver’s breastbone; properly adjusted head restraints
- Proper seat belt use and fit, and safe positioning of mirrors to minimize blind spots
Waveny Care Network is offering a Carfit event that is free and open to the public at 73 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan this Friday, June 18, 2021 from 10am to 2pm. Appointments are required. To make an appointment, please email [email protected] or call 203-594-5419.
We hope this helps you drive safely and comfortably. However, it is important to recognize when it is time to turn in the keys, which can be a difficult but courageous decision. At Home In Darien is here to support Darien senior citizens with professional drivers and accessible vehicles to assist with transportation needs, ensuring both your independence and safety.