If you have an older relative who loves to drive, it is important to regularly check their driving skills. Having regular motor safety “checkups” will ensure that any age-related medical conditions they have do not impair their ability to safely handle a vehicle.
Your older relative may become a danger to themselves or other road users if they develop a health condition that makes it difficult to drive safely. Some older drivers also have to take medications that can affect their ability to drive well.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your loved one is safe behind the wheel. This article will review the ways that you can ensure your older relative is safe and can continue using their car.
Have regular health checks performed
Age-related health conditions are the most common way that an older person loses their ability to drive well. Talk to your relative’s doctor and organize regular health checks that look at the abilities needed to handle a vehicle well.
Some of the health checks that should be performed include:
- Regular eyesight and hearing tests
Your relative’s eyesight and hearing must be tested on a regular basis. This will ensure they can easily see and hear other vehicles on the road. Your relative’s night vision should also be checked if they drive in low light conditions.
- Flexibility and physical activity tests
While driving is not the most physically demanding activity, it does require some flexibility and reasonably good health. Your relative must be flexible enough to turn in their seat, move their head to look around their car, and manipulate the controls in the vehicle.
- Chronic health condition checkups
If your relative suffers from a degenerative condition like multiple sclerosis, it is important to regularly check how it is affecting their driving. They may reach a point where their condition makes it impossible to drive.
- Medication side effects checks
The doctor should also check if side effects from medication that your relative is taking is affecting their ability to drive. Some medications can cause drowsiness, mental confusion or dizziness that impact a person’s driving skills.
Have a professional assess your loved one’s driving skills
You can ask your relative to perform a driving test with a professional driving instructor every year. This ensures that their vehicle handling skills are still good enough for them to be on the road.
Have a DMV reexamination performed
The DMV will perform a reexamination of a person’s ability to drive if it has been requested by a physician, family member, or emergency technician. If you really want to make sure your relative is capable of driving well, a reexamination will confirm it.
Safe cars for seniors
Some vehicles are safer and easier to drive. Some of the features to look for when buying a car for senior include:
- Plenty of visibility
Vehicles that have large windows are much easier to drive because of the additional visibility they provide. Look for cars that don’t have very slanted windows or wide pillars.
- Air bags
A vehicle with multiple air bags is much safer to drive in. If there is a crash, your relative is much less likely to suffer from a serious injury.
- Highly adjustable seats
Having highly adjustable seats helps a senior set the car up for their needs. In many cases, seniors find vehicles easier to drive if they can move their seat more forward and/or adjust the seat higher up.
- Acceleration and brake pedals should be far apart
There are many stories of seniors getting into an accident because they accidentally hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal. Reduce the risk of this happening by purchasing a vehicle with plenty of room between the accelerator and brake.
- Keyless entry and ignition
Conditions like osteoarthritis can make using handles and knobs difficult. Consider purchasing a vehicle with an automatic transmission, keyless entry, and keyless ignition. They won’t be forced to constantly use a gearstick and starting the car will be simple.
How Adult Home Health Care can help
Adult Home Health Care can help seniors safely drive their vehicle by providing a range of services including:
- Transportation to doctor’s appointments and errands
- Assistance with medications — helping a senior take medications and understand the side effects they might experience
- Help with physical fitness routines
Our talented caregivers can help around the home as well, preparing meals, performing general domestic duties, and keeping the home in order.
If you are interested in learning more about home care, contact us today at 619-940-6561 for a free in-home consultation. We will discuss your parent’s capabilities and determine which services they may require.