Safety behind the Wheel: When Should Seniors Give Up Their License
The American population is on a whole staying healthy and therefore living much longer. There is no question that the number of drivers that are above 55 is on the rise. We find that more and more senior citizens are traveling on a regular basis and most by car. The fact is because the senior citizen population is driving more, there is a rising rate of car crashes that involve this population. Senior citizens have one of the highest death rate per mile driven, 2nd only to teens who have the highest death rate.
Most people do not consider the amount of strength that it takes to drive and control a motor vehicle on the road. Nor do they consider the implications of the multitudes of medications that they may be taking. If they miss one, what will happen? If they take too much, will this cause a problem too?
It is important to realize that as we age many things in our body become affected by the process. Our reflexes begin to slow down which could cause our reaction times to slow down dramatically. Our vision become impaired and our depth perception could become an issue as well. The ability to make quick decisions and handle the multiple tasks of driving to avoid accidents and emergency situations becomes diminished. The body begins to lose muscle strength and tone as well as decreased bone mass. Hearing can be affected or diminished not allowing us to use the sense to hear what is going on around us. And the biggest impact of all could be prescription medication, how are body responds to it as well as what happens when we forget to take our prescriptions. All of these things mentioned can impact our ability to drive and the possibility of it causing an accident.
The decision to give up driving is very tough for people to make. Driving is viewed as the last greatest measure of independence for a person. It makes it much more difficult to do the things that you were doing before. Many seniors do not want to give up their driverís license because it makes it difficult to go to appointments, get to the grocery store and social with friends.
Seniors should really take time to consider if they are able to continue to drive before getting in behind the wheel. If you have had several minor accidents, tend to get lost easily, or have family members that are worried about your driving ability, you should really consider giving up your keys. If the family is really worried, they will help out on transportation. There are also many public transportation programs throughout the US that allows seniors to ride at discounted rates.
About the Author: Bekie Cohner is a nurse and writer who has 10 years of experience working in the Austin Health Care field in the geriatric population.