As people get older, their reflexes, vision, and hearing abilities change. Since people aged 70 and older are more likely to crash than any other age group, it’s essential to recognize the signs that driving is no longer safe. If you’re worried about how your loved one will get to their doctor’s appointments, here is more information about factors that make driving challenging for seniors.
Age-Related Conditions That Impair Driving Ability
In their later stages, all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, make it dangerous for your loved one to drive. Memory problems could cause them to forget where they live or their destination, for example. They might also have trouble recalling the meaning behind different signs.
This is a chronic degenerative disease. As it progresses, it can make the joints swollen and stiff, preventing a senior from comfortably moving their shoulders, head, neck, and hands. These symptoms affect your loved one’s ability to grip the steering wheel, use the brakes, and check for blind spots.
This condition causes the hands, arms, and legs to shake even when a person is relaxed. It will limit your loved one’s ability to react quickly to road hazards, and may cause them to push down on the gas or brake unnecessarily. Common medications taken for this condition also have side effects that make driving dangerous, including confusion, sleepiness, dizziness, or blurred vision.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, happens when someone’s blood sugar levels drop. For seniors with diabetes, this occurs when there's too much insulin and not enough sugar in the blood. This leads to symptoms that limit driving ability, including shakiness and weakness. Seniors should always test their blood sugar 40 minutes before driving.
Warning Signs to Look For
If your loved one doesn’t have one of the above conditions, it may still be unsafe for them to drive to doctor’s appointments. Anyone who has hearing or vision trouble will have difficulty noticing obstacles, road signs, or oncoming motorcycles. Reduced reaction time is also concerning, especially during inclement weather conditions.
Here are a few additional signs that driving may no longer be safe for a senior:
Difficulty stopping at traffic lights or signs
Inability to adhere to posted speed signs
Failure to signal when switching lanes or making turns
Trouble comprehending the distance between cars
Discomfort or anger while driving
If your loved one is having difficulty driving to their doctor’s appointments, seek the help of Agape Transporation. Serving the Tri-State Area, including Westchester County and New York City, this company provides reliable transportation to all non-emergency health care appointments. Learn more about their 24/7 shuttle service on their website, or call (718) 585-2222 to request a ride today.