If you are reading this article in Brookhaven’s fabulous website, chances are that you or a loved one is making a recovery journey. Post-stroke rehab, for example, can be long and complicated. However, this week is Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, so let’s look into returning to driving.
An older driver might want to return to driving after:
- an operation, or
- a stroke
Driving helps seniors stay active and supports a senior’s social life. You can really get places with driving. Further on in the article we will discuss ideas that help with safe driving. That way you get where you want to go, safely.
The older driver’s slogan could be: Keep active, keep independent, and keep safe!
Drivers who are Post Stroke, Operation or Illness
How can you determine whether you can go back to driving?
You will need to have a driver’s evaluation. These are available through an occupational therapist. You can find out more on the American Occupational Therapy Association website.
You can probably decide by yourself whether you have enough strength and stamina to drive. However, it is not so easy to determine whether a person has a good enough memory, concentration span, reaction time and so on. An objective assessment can show you where you are holding.
Some people need adaptive equipment. Some examples are: steering wheel adapters, indicator extenders and swivel seats.
Have a look at:
The Mobility Resource The Mobility Resource
Adaptive Driving Adaptive Driving
NTSHA, a government site for adaptive drivers
Rehabilitation Driving Lessons
Find out about rehabilitation driving lessons. You need to find a good teacher, who is certified.
A rehab driving instructor must understand the needs of people who may have partial paralysis, or other physical limitations.
Seeing Older Diver Safety Awareness Week as an Opportunity
Older drivers should discuss their driving habits with their doctor and their loved ones. It is essential to be honest with yourself. It may be hard to stop driving due to reduced vison or hearing. Tell yourself: “I want to drive; I want to arrive. But I’d rather stay alive.”
On the other hand, there are patients who are recovering from stroke. Or patients who have other medical problems that affect how they drive. For those patients, there are tried and tested ways to overcome the issues.
People who can drive following recovery should follow the recommended senior safety tips.
Older Driver Safety While Driving
People over the age of 65 often have more driving experience and patience than younger drivers. That can add to their good driving reputation. However, older drivers need to compensate for age-related problems.
Issues come up due to:
- reduced vision, hearing and cognitive abilities
- medication that causes drowsiness or confusion
- physical limitations, such as stiff muscles
- slower reflexes
The answers to these issues are the obligation to:
- remember basic driving rules – wearing a seatbelt, keeping to traffic laws etc.
- stay off the road in extreme weather
- if it is harder to see in the dark, only drive in daylight
- schedule driving-vision eye checks, annually or more often
And common-sense ideas too:
- Know where you are going, plan the route, or use Waze or a GPS.
- Keep a fully-charged phone with you, always.
When to Stop Driving
The National Calendar has a great write up for Older Diver Safety Awareness Week. There is list things that hint when a senior should stop driving:
- If you had several near-misses while driving
- Getting lost
- Slower reaction time
- It becomes hard to see road signage
You need your 5 senses to be working well for safe driving. And you need your common sense for knowing when not to drive!
Useful Resources for Older Driver Safety
The CDC collected some useful resources:
Alternatives to driving: Get-A-Ride
The AAA Foundation: Older Drivers Resources Website
NHTSA resource website for older drivers
The American Occupational Therapy Association page for Older Diver Safety Awareness Week
So, if you are someone older who wishes to drive, use the opportunity of the Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. Do your health and safety checks, and not just on the car. Learn up about ways to stay on the road with safety. Safe journey!