Every day travel and routine driving can at times, be stressful in itself. There are bus stops, morning commuters, rush hour drivers, and the highway is almost guaranteed to have some type of bumper to bumper traffic. For the next few months, as the cold weather sets in as the norm, we are undoubtedly expected to see snow and ice which can make driving conditions worse.
Understanding that with age comes many changes to our mind and body. Our vision, hearing, reaction time, cognition, and medical conditions/medication can change throughout this aging process. Seeing your physician regularly and watching out for signs of changes is a huge first step in driving safe during these bad weather conditions.
Watch for these signs of change and precautions in you or a loved one:
- Vision - Wear appropriate eye wear while driving. Keep your lights on, even during the daytime, it will help you see better through any condition that may arise.
- Hearing - Age is the most common cause of hearing loss but other medical conditions can bring on hearing loss as well. Wear all hearing devices to assist with hearing sirens from ambulances or police, also, background noise, warnings, etc.
- Reaction time - Attempt to avoid fast moving traffic during congested times, such as rush hour. Pain and stiffness can cause a delay in reaction time. Practice simple neck, back, and shoulder exercises to assist with weakness of muscles and joints to make it less difficult to react in an emergency situation.
- Medical conditions & medications - Physical limitations, diabetes, seizures, dementia, Alzheimer's, sleep disorders, etc. can also make it difficult to drive safely. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause the inability to drive and possibly make you legally impaired to operate a motor vehicle. Work closely with your physician to ensure continued safety.
Although we can watch for signs and take precautions, age eventually catches up to us all. The great thing is that you don't ever have to feel that your options are limited. When your caring for elderly loved ones who are unable to drive and you can no longer be there to assist with every ride or appointment , there is someone that can help. Keep in mind that there are non medical home care services and/or senior in home care services that provide transportation for the elderly and that can be utilized as needed. These services differ from those of living assistance services and can sometimes be covered by Medicaid.
Regardless of how your elderly loved one is getting around these winter months, attempting to take the proper precautions and being proactive about their health is sure to make some strides in relieving the stress of transportation.