There were nearly 36 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Driving a car helps you stay mobile and independent, but the risks of being injured in a motor vehicle accident increases as you grow older. The best way to stay safe is to recognize how aging affects your ability to drive so that you can make any adjustments necessary to ensure your safety, and the safety of your passengers and other drivers.
Aging Affects Driving
An older person needs brighter light to see well, and this is especially true while driving. A person needs three times the amount of light to see well at age 60 than at age 20, according to AAA, which makes driving at night more hazardous for older drivers.
Your eyes may take longer to focus when going back and forth between looking at objects that are nearby to those far away. Driving at night is especially difficult for older drivers, as is managing glare while driving at night or in bad weather.
Age also affects hearing and prevent you from hearing honking horns or train whistles. Approximately one-third of all adults over the age of 65 have age-related hearing loss.
Aging also slows reaction time, which means you may not step on the brake or swerve in time to avoid an accident. Arthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea and other medical conditions can affect your driving, as can some medications that make you drowsy, slow your reflexes or blur your vision. Talk with your doctor to determine if you have a condition or take a medication that can affect your ability to drive safely.
Aging can also reduce strength, coordination and flexibility in ways that affect your ability to control a car safely. Neck pain and stiffness can prevent you from looking over your shoulder during lane changes, for example, while diminished arm strength can make it hard to turn the steering wheel.
The brain needs more time to process information as you get older, and slow processing times could make it more difficult for your brain to quickly identify and ignore distractions. Age can affect the brain’s cognitive function in a way that makes it harder to remember locations and directions, recognize and respond to traffic signals, and making sound decisions quickly enough to avoid accidents.
If you are concerned about driving safely from your home to your favorite locations around Berlin, Maryland, talk to the senior living professionals at Gull Creek to learn more about the possibilities of independent living and assisted living in our vibrant senior community.