Is your elderly loved one a good driver? With age comes many physical and mental challenges to staying safe on the road behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. As a family caregiver, it’s a good idea to frequently evaluate how they are doing and whether they are using good judgement when driving.
Because April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s an excellent time to review good habits and encourage your aging relative to reduce or eliminate distractions while driving.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is operating a vehicle when the driver’s attention is not completely on the road and nearby traffic. Every year, thousands of auto accidents and fatalities are caused by distracted driving. Using cell phones for texting or talking is one of the leading causes of distracted driving. In a recent survey, more than 60 percent of elderly drivers admitted to using a cell phone while behind the wheel.
Other common causes of distracted drivers are eating, drinking, and smoking while driving. Talking to another passenger, adjusting controls, or accessing a purse or wallet can also cause an elderly person to stop focusing on the road. Sometimes, age-related issues can interfere with a person’s concentration, such as poor hearing or vision, slower reflexes, and the side effects of some medications that affect concentration.
Reduce Distracted Driving in Elderly Adults.
Family members and home care assistants can also support the aging person in their efforts to reduce distractions and do better when driving. Here are some things that elderly adults can do to reduce the risks of distracted driving:
- Have regular vision tests and wear corrective lenses as needed.
- Get regular hearing tests and wear hearing aids as needed.
- Turn the cell phone off when driving and don’t check it until the car is stopped.
- Set up a GPS route before starting the car and don’t manipulate it while driving.
- Never eat, drink, or smoke when driving and always pull over to do so.
- Ask the doctor to check medication side effects for dizziness or lack of concentration.
- Ask family members, home care aides, and friends to observe driving ability often.
- Don’t drive while upset, tired, or angry as the emotions can distract from driving.
- Pull over if something needs attending to, such as getting money out for a toll.
- Don’t drive in unfamiliar cars as the features may be in different places, causing distractions.
- Allow family members, home care aides, or friends to drive under unappealing conditions such as in bad weather or in the dark.
If elderly adults practice these and other good habits, they’ll be able to reduce distracted driving and avoid accidents. Hopefully, your aging relative will be able to drive for many years to come. If they are becoming a safety hazard, it may be time to get friends, family members and home care aides to drive instead.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Northbrook, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.