Senior Driver’s License Renewal Tips

Nurse Next Door

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Having the ability to drive is a major component of our independent lifestyle. Knowing we can transport ourselves wherever and whenever we’d like to, puts us confidently on the road to healthier and happier aging.

As we age, our physical and mental capabilities vary at different rates, including our vision, hearing and reaction time. It’s important for elderly drivers to assess physical abilities early and often enough so we can closely monitor how our driving skills might be affected. Once we have a realistic picture of our physical and mental status, we can better navigate what’s up ahead.

For many senior drivers, the impending elderly driver’s license renewal date can cause unwanted stress and anxiety. Fortunately, there are key steps we can take right now to ensure you pass your test with flying colors.

1. BE SURE TO SCHEDULE YOUR ANNUAL EYE EXAMINATION: Having good vision is a critical factor in our ability to drive safely. As we age, changes in our vision happen over time. Many of these variations can affect our driving ability including the amount of light we need to see clearly, the narrowing of our field of view, and our ability to focus. Some tips to prevent sight issues are to stay on top of our annual eye examinations to ensure our prescriptions are kept current. Make sure our windshield, mirrors, and headlights are always kept as clean as possible. And ensure the brightness on our dashboard instrument panel is turned up so we can easily view our vehicle signals and alerts.

2. CHECK YOUR HEARING EVERY YEAR: Hearing is another important part of our ability to drive safely. If we can’t hear another driver honking to alert us of a near-miss fender-bender, there’s a chance we might not react in time to avert the situation. In the United States, it is estimated that 50% of seniors 75 and over have age-related hearing loss which means we need to take extra pre-caution when it comes to our hearing health. If you have a hearing aid prescription, make sure you wear them while driving and be careful when opening your car windows as drafts can impair a hearing aid’s effectiveness.

3. ASSESS YOUR MOTOR SKILLS & REACTION TIME: Aging can also reduce our strength, coordination, and flexibility, which can have a major impact on our ability to safely operate a car. Our reaction time might also slow-down, leading to precarious road incidences such as another driver pulling out in front of us, which we want to avoid. Being more self-aware of our reaction time and how it could potentially be altered by side effects of common age-related diseases can also help us drive with more certainty and readiness.

4. TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR OFTEN: Talking with your doctor on an on-going basis is always a smart idea. They can provide you with their professional opinion about your ability to drive safely based on your current physical and mental condition or refer you to a specialist who can conduct a more thorough evaluation.

5. KNOW YOUR MEDICATIONS: Are you currently taking medicine that have any warning about use while driving? Be vigilant as to how and why these drugs may affect your driving. You can also make a list of all of your medicines and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether or not they may be altering your ability to drive safely.

6. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP: Sleep is absolutely essential to driving well. If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, try to improve your night-time sleep conditions or make adjustments to your lifestyle. You can also talk with your doctor about the effect your medications may be having on your ability to rest and drive.

In addition to following these tips, it’s important to recognize that your physical and mental changes may prevent you from driving safely at some point in the future. Family and friends can help monitor these changes with you by closely observing your driving ability and taking necessary action when the time comes to transition into other elderly transportation options. Adjusting to life without a car may be difficult at first, but it takes a lot of courage to stop driving and put the safety of yourself and others first.

Remaining aware of early ageing signs that may interfere with our driving safety can help us make appropriate adjustments when the time comes. Fortunately, by taking the necessary steps to reduce risk factors and incorporating safe driving practices into our lifestyle, many of us can continue driving safely and independently long into our senior years.

Nurse Next Door makes it possible for your parents to keep living in their own home and continue all of their favorite activities. To learn more about how  we can help, call 1-877-588-8609.

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