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July 12, 2019

Safety on the road makes for healthier, happier senior independent living

People who retain their vision, hearing and physical reflexes are driving today at ages beyond those of previous generations. But no matter how long you have been driving, you’re never too old to heed advice for safe driving.

Follow these tips for safe driving (with input from the Mayo Clinic and HelpGuide.org):

  • Stay physically active to maintain strength and flexibility needed for driving, backing up and parking.
  • Schedule regular vision and hearing tests to detect any problems early.
  • Work with your doctor to manage chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes or glaucoma) that could affect your fitness and safety while driving.
  • Don’t drive if you have recently taken medication that causes drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Ensure you get a good night’s sleep. See your doctor if you struggle with insomnia.
  • When driving, leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front of you, and pay particular attention at intersections and left turns across traffic.

Cutting back on driving can be tough on those enjoying senior independent living

Driving a car at any age provides feelings of freedom and self-reliance. So, it’s not surprising that stopping driving can be disappointing and frustrating for seniors who have enjoyed independent living.

That’s why discussions about curtailing or stopping driving should be approached with sensitivity and understanding. For families struggling with the issue of senior driving, we have prepared a helpful 12-page guide, “Talking About Touchy Topics With Your Aging Parents.” The guide is available in digital form online or at any Country Meadows location.

Some senior drivers and their families determine that totally stopping driving isn’t necessary. Instead, they decide to cut back by driving only in daylight, staying home in bad weather and avoiding highways and roads with fast-moving traffic.

Often, family concerns about driving arise when a senior begins exhibiting signs of dementia. If a senior driver shows confusion or atypical stress or anger while driving, those are red flags that driving should be limited or discontinued.

Here are steps families can take if they’re concerned about possible changes in the skills of senior drivers:

  • Ride along to observe their driving and be alert to slips in mental functioning and motor skills.
  • Look for other signs such as damage to the car or traffic tickets.
  • Go with them for a medical check-up to see if any new symptoms have arisen since their last visit.
  • Contact an area organization that assesses driving ability—a driver rehab specialist, VA Medical Center, hospital or rehab center.
  • Contact your state transportation department. All states, including Pennsylvania and Maryland, have procedures to address your concerns, e.g., driving evaluations and license reviews.

During this challenging process, assure your loved one that you’re concerned about his or her well-being and will help resolve the issue of alternative transportation. Your support is important to achieve a positive outcome for everyone.

Senior living at Country Meadows can meet transportation needs and much more

At Country Meadows Retirement Communities, we offer our residents transportation for appointments, errands, shopping, church, group entertainment and more. We invite you to contact us or schedule a visit to learn more about the many senior living services at our 10 Pennsylvania senior living communities and our Maryland retirement community. We have just the right senior independent living apartment or personal care/assisted living lifestyle to meet your needs.

If you feel that dementia care might benefit your senior family member, check out our page on “When is it time for a memory support program?” Let us know If you would like to know about our professional memory support services—we would be glad to tell you about those services as well.


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