As we approach senior age, we inevitably find that the things we’re used to doing normally are now somewhat more difficult to do because of the changes in our older bodies. We’re no longer as able to face physically demanding tasks as well as we did when were younger and sometimes we even have to contend with lapses in our memory. These make certain daily activities a challenge, and one important task that is frequently affected is our ability to drive.
Still, despite the fact that the risk of injury and death due to vehicle accidents increases as we age, it’s understandable that many of us want to continue driving even when we’re older because it makes us feel independent and helps us stay mobile.
Fortunately, even through age-related eye conditions and peripheral vision loss, there are ways to keep driving safe for older folks. Here are some of them:
- Watching our health. It’s important to understand how advanced age might impact driving. As mentioned earlier, our bodies will change when we get older. Motor reflexes will slow, vision will likely decrease, and hearing might become a problem. So, while there might not be any miracle pill to delay aging, certain problems can be addressed by visiting your doctor. For instance, regular eye exams can help your doctor determine if your vision is still good for driving and an ear doctor can see if a hearing aid can help.
Making it easier on ourselves. As much as driving that non-power steering, stick-shift truck makes us feel macho, it might become more difficult to maneuver as we grow older and it will make more sense to invest in a car that’s easier to use. Power steering, automatic transmission, and power brakes are just some upgrades we can look into.
Additionally, a visit with a driving rehab consultant may help towards getting us set up for driving safely.
- Be vigilant about safety precautions. Maybe checking your mirror, seatbelts and brakes and not using your cellphone while driving, and the like sounds old but it’s always important to be careful. This is especially true with all the changes occurring in us as we grow older. If it helps, putting a safety precautions checklist somewhere in the car can be a good idea.
Know your limitations. It’s essential to know when it’s time to turn over the keys. Sometimes we might be nervous about certain driving conditions like when it’s snowing or raining or if it’s too dark. In these cases, we shouldn’t feel embarrassed about having someone else drive or taking public transportation.
Listening to family, friends, and even our doctors raise their concerns about our driving is also very important. When this happens, it may help to take some self or professional driving evaluations or get a driving refresher course.
Again, seeing medical professionals like our eye doctors, family doctors, and driving rehabilitation specialists will also prove invaluable to finding out if we’re still able to drive without risking your own or anyone else’s safety.
- Keep your eyes healthy. If it hasn’t been impressed on us yet, vision plays an important role in driving. While many of us tend to skip out on visiting the eye doctor until something really noticeably bothers us, annual eye exams are actually recommended for people over the age of 60. Optometrists can make sure that you don’t have any eye problems affecting your vision like macular degeneration or cataracts.
Aside from regular checkups, we can also prevent problems early on by eating foods that are good for our eyes, taking vitamins, and wearing UV-protected sunglasses whenever we go out into the sun.
The changes we go through as we age may make driving more difficult. In fact, according to statistics many older adults get into driving accidents daily. The latter doesn’t have to be a certainty as long as we keep ourselves healthy, take care to be safe, and be realistic about our limitations.
For older Floridians in the Greenacres area who would like a consultation about their driving vision, Dr. Hetel Bhakta at Planet Vision Eyecare is an experienced optometric physician who can help you learn more about you eye health.