It is no secret that older drivers can tend to lack the general awareness and reaction time of younger motorists. This does not just make them drive slow, a common complaint, but it can be quite dangerous. Diminished vision, hearing, and cognitive abilities are a normal part of advanced age, but they can make for a bad combination behind the wheel.

There are ways elder adults can stay safe on the road, however, short of needing to permanently hand over their keys. With some useful guidelines and assistance from their adult children, other family members and friends, driving can be a safer and more productive activity.

Consider these practical planning tips:

  • Avoid driving at night.
  • Avoid driving during periods of high traffic, like morning and afternoon rush hours.
  • Drive on familiar streets and try to stay close to home.
  • Avoid driving during rain, fog or snow.
  • Do not drive if feeling tired, lightheaded or stressed.
  • Always plan to keep a safe distance between other cars.

Making these vehicle adjustments can also boost safety:

  • Keep the windshield, headlights, and mirror clean to maximize visibility.
  • Keep the headlights on at all times.
  • Do not tint car windows.
  • If possible, drive a car with automatic transmission.
  • Raise the seat high enough for a clear view of the road.
  • Keep windshield wiper blades in proper working condition.

Adult family members should also consider attending an upcoming doctor’s visit with their elder loved one, and inquire about any health-related concerns that could negatively impact driving. This includes any medications an elder parent or family member may be taking.

Periodic vision and hearing tests may also be recommended, especially by the senior’s doctor. Tests like these are important for overall health, but can also lead to new glasses or hearing aids to enhance basic driving abilities. Regardless, it is a good idea to limit distracting noises inside a vehicle, like the radio and unnecessary conversations. Further, limit unnecessary use of cell phones.

We know that this can be a challenging time. Discussing issues such as driving concerns can be a tense time for the elder and his or her family. One of the keys to success is navigating the aging process is to have a plan in place that contemplates a potential need for long-term care in the future. Do not hesitate to contact us to ask your questions for yourself or for your Florida senior loved one.