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How to Prevent Losing the Ability to Drive

Fri, Jun 25th, 2021

How to Prevent Losing the Ability to Drive

Remaining as independent as possible for as long as possible is a huge goal of most seniors. Many older adults are choosing to remain at home as they age and are adapting their home, vehicle, surroundings and even themselves to make that possible.

Being able to get into your vehicle any time to go on a road trip or the ability to take a drive wherever you want provides a great sense of independence.

You may have had a perfect driving record your entire life but as we age there are many things that can pop up that make driving more of a challenge or even impossible.

What Risk Factors May Make it Hard for Me to Keep Driving as I Age?

As we age there are factors that may arise that put you at risk for not being able to continue to drive including:

  • Neck stiffness and pain – Can cause difficulty turning your head to look right and left for oncoming cars while maneuvering your vehicle
  • Lower limb pain or neuropathy – Can make moving your foot between the gas and brake pedals difficult
  • Decreased upper body strength - Can make it harder to turn the steering wheel properly and efficiently
  • Reflexes and reaction time decrease – Makes driving defensively and avoiding accidents more difficult as reaction time is slower
  • Being attentive to multiple things at the same time – There are many components that need attention while driving and the ability to attend to them all quickly may diminish over time

Tips to Help Keep You In the Driver's Seat Longer

Age doesn’t have to be a reason to lose your driving privileges as there are things you can do to help keep you behind the wheel as time goes by:

  • Have your eyes checked every year to ensure your glasses or contact lens prescription is up to date
  • Stay on top of medication interactions and discuss this with your doctor to help avoid dizziness or other symptoms that may interfere with driving safety
  • Have your hearing checked each year
  • Work with an experienced trainer or see your physical therapist for a home exercise program to help improve your strength, flexibility, balance, range of motion and to reduce pain
  • Get enough sleep and if you are taking sleep medications talk to your doctor about how they may affect driving
  • Choose a vehicle that is the right size and also one with automatic transmission, power brakes and power steering may be easier for you to operate

Other Tips

Here are some other tips that make it easier and safer for you to drive as the years go by:

  • Keep the windshield, windows and mirrors on your vehicle clean
  • Avoid driving in bad weather (when it’s raining or snowing)
  • Plan your route to know exactly how to get where you are going so you won’t get lost and will feel more confident while driving
  • Only drive during the day if it is difficult to see at night
  • Stay off major highways and freeways where faster traffic is usually found
  • If you use a wheelchair or scooter, get a lift installed in your vehicle so you can take the mobility device along to have when you want to get out of the car or truck to move around

Many people can safely drive until they are high up in age. Follow the above tips to help you hold onto your keys for as long as possible.

If you can’t use your vehicle because you need a way to take your wheelchair or scooter along to the store or to visit family or friends, call Bellhouse Medical to install a scooter or wheelchair lift into your car, van or truck. A lift is easy to use and a great way to help maintain independence!

Call today! 302-644-4404

See some examples of vehicle lifts