Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Brought to you by Senior Extra at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Mooresville, NC (November 25, 2013) – Be safe out there …

For many of us, driving is an important part of our lives, allowing us to be independent. We depend on driving for work or volunteer activities, running errands and social engagements — driving connects us to our community. However, as we age, our ability to drive safely is affected by changes in our physical and mental condition. Being aware of these changes and knowing how to respond is important for safe driving.

Dec. 2-6 is The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which seeks to raise awareness and increase education about aging drivers’ options. In recognition of the occasion, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center’s Senior Extra program would like to share some tips to keep you and others safe on the road.

Maintain your driving health

When it comes to safe driving, self-awareness is important. When you’re able to honestly assess your driving ability, you can adjust your habits to stay safe on the road. The AOTA recommends the following tips for older drivers concerned about driving safety:

Get a checkup. Have a physical exam to identify any changes that could affect your driving, including medications and other factors. If you have any physical limitations that could affect driving, talk to your doctor about working with an occupational therapist to explore adaptations to enhance safety.

Ensure your car “fits” you. Attend a free CarFit event in your community. During the 20-minute assessment, occupational therapy practitioners use a 12-point checklist to ensure your car is properly adjusted to you, including the positioning of the seat, steering wheel, mirrors, head restraints, and more. Visit www.car-fit.org for more information and to find an event near you.

Take a driving self-assessment. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offers a short online quiz for people age 65 and older to evaluate their driving ability. Visit www.aaafoundation.org/drivers-65 to identify your strengths and weaknesses and get suggestions for improving your driving.  

Stay active. Being physically fit ensures you have the strength, flexibility and coordination required for driving. Whether it’s walking, swimming, yoga or another activity, staying active benefits your overall health and well-being.

People 60 and older should see an eye doctor once a year to check for cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other age-related conditions that can affect driving ability. If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is up to date and you always have them with you when you drive. If need be, buy a special pair to keep in your car so you’re never without them.

Alternate ways to get around

Whether you want to drive less or are looking for alternatives to help someone you know who no longer drives, there are various transportation options available. Arrange rides with neighbors or friends or consider offering to trade services — such as tutoring a student, babysitting, or housesitting for a neighboring family — in exchange for rides. Find out what’s available in your community by checking with the local senior center or local Area Agency on Aging. Alternate ways to get around could include:

  • City transportation such as buses, trams and subways.
  • Taxis and personalized driver services.
  • Shuttle buses offered by churches, senior centers, medical facilities, and retirement communities.

When considering costs for alternate transportation, remember to factor in the savings of costs associated with owning and maintaining a car, such as insurance, registration and parking. In many cases, these options are more convenient and allow you to sit back and enjoy the ride stress-free.

In order to maintain safe driving skills, it’s important to be aware of any changes that can affect your ability to operate a car safely. Just because you may have limitations doesn’t mean you can’t be independent. Whether it’s talking to your doctor about your concerns, pursuing adaptations for your car, or taking advantage of alternate transportation options, you can continue to do the things you love.

About Senior Extra

Ever-changing advancements in health care allow us to live longer and improve our overall health. Providing the latest information about health advancements through monthly seminars and events is just one facet of Senior Extra. To sign up for a free membership, visit www.SeniorExtra.com.

About Lake Norman Regional Medical Center

Lake Norman Regional Medical Center offers comprehensive medical care to individuals throughout the greater Lake Norman region. Located just off I-77 at Exit 33, the Mooresville medical campus offers complete specialty services from 24-hour emergency medicine and maternity to oncology and advanced surgical services. 

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.