Statistics across the United States and Canada report that other than young male drivers, people aged 70 or older have the highest accident rate.
My dad, in his late 60’s, was told he was having his license revoked because his epilepsy had become too unpredictable. My father was the most independent person I have ever known and naturally was completely crushed by this news. He hated the idea of asking other people to drive him around. But our entire family knew that this was the right decision. He was unsafe to drive.
Here are some health issues that may affect a senior’s ability to drive:
Issues with Memory- Getting lost or missing an exit occasionally is very normal. But if it is something that happens regularly, you may want to find out if driving is still safe.
Medications - Medications affect us all in different ways. Certain medications make us more confused, drowsy, and delay our decision making. Asking your pharmacist or doctor to review medicines, in order to reduce side effects, can help. This is true for both prescription and over-the counter medicines.
Poor Eye Sight - A simple eye test can help you determine if your eyes are safe for the road. But other factors like light sensitivity, issues seeing in the dark are also important to consider.
Hearing Issues - We use our hearing more than we think during driving. Horns, emergency sirens, sounds of oncoming or passing cars and other extraneous noises are all very important for safe driving. Getting your hearing checked regularly is important. Your doctor may suggest a hearing device for driving.
Medical issue - A head injury, a stroke, cancer, or epilepsy are all medical conditions that may affect the ability to drive safely. Sometimes medical professionals will recommend that you keep to driving close to your home, or areas that you are familiar with.
In many areas, there are volunteer organizations that drive seniors to appointments, as well as help them in delivering groceries and other items like prescriptions. Private companies like “Driving Miss Daisy” specialize in driving seniors. Local transit is effective and affordable. In my own community, I have seen a rise of seniors in golf cart like vehicles. Which looks fun, to be honest!
Here is a comprehensive guide for families with elderly drivers that includes precautions to stay safe on the road.