Navigating the Road: Aging and Driving

May 8, 2024 / Senior Living Community
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As we age, changes in physical health, vision, and cognitive function may affect driving abilities. While aging does not inherently diminish driving skills, it can introduce new challenges. Many older adults find their reaction time is affected and begin to feel unsure about driving in different scenarios, such as at night or during bad weather. This uncertainty can cause many to lose confidence and question if it’s time in hand in their keys. 

How do you know when it’s time to stop driving? Furthermore, if you come to that decision, then how will you get from one place to the next? These are just a few of the questions that come along with navigating aging. While there’s no right answer, there are different paths to explore for each question. 

The biggest concern with aging and driving is safety, both that of yourself and others. If you’ve questioned if you should be on the road, or had other people ponder if it’s safe, then it’s important to access your driving abilities.

  1. Physical Health: Driving requires both coordination and a certain level of strength to maneuver the steering wheel and operate the pedals. If you’re struggling with a condition, such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, that decreases your mobility, then you may not be strong enough to safely drive. 
  2. Vision: It’s common for depth perception to decline with age. While this change can be minor, if it is significant then it can affect one’s ability to accurately see signs, pedestrians, or other vehicles. 
  3. Hearing: Those who experience hearing loss are highly encouraged to wear a hearing aid when driving in order to be aware of any auditory cues on the road. 
  4. Cognitive Function: Along with reaction time, quick decisions and attention to detail are key characteristics in safe driving. It’s recommended that older adults experiencing cognitive impairment or decline no longer drive. 

In order to keep older adults and other drivers safe, the DMV requires those aged 70 years or older to renew their driver’s license in person. There, you must take both a vision and written test to pass. If you pass, then you’ll have to retake the test every five years to ensure you’re still able to safely be on the roads.

Those struggling with inability to no longer drive- whether the choice was yours or not- often wonder how it will affect their independence. The fear of being a burden to loved ones can keep older adults on the road far longer than they should be. 

Luckily, there are other alternatives! Both Lyft and Uber offer ride sharing programs for seniors. As well, many local communities have volunteers and services available to drive older adults to the grocery store, doctor appointments, and around town as needed. 
Finally, The Villas at Stanford Ranch also offers transportation services as one of the amenities available to our residents. That is just one of the many benefits of living in a senior community! To learn about our services and other amenities, give us a call at 916-741-7050.


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