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Tips for driving safely

Written by Diane Archer

As you get older, it can become increasingly challenging to drive. A variety of health conditions can affect your ability to drive. If you are concerned about whether you or someone you love is a safe driver, talk to your doctor. Don’t risk hurting yourself or others. Here are tips for driving safely from the National Institutes of Health.

If your joint and muscles are stiff, you may have difficulty turning your head to see oncoming cars or responding to a situation where you need to turn the steering wheel or brake quickly. In these situations, you are likely better off driving an automatic car with power steering and brakes and big mirrors. And, you should exercise so that you are as strong and flexible as possible.

If your vision is not what it used to be, you may have trouble seeing people and things in front of you as you drive. You also might struggle to see at night. Visit the eye doctor to ensure your vision is as good as possible. You also might consider stopping driving at night.

If your hearing is failing, you may not hear horns and sirens and may not be warned when you need to get out of the way. Make sure to have your doctor check your hearing. Also, consider keeping the radio off while you are driving so that you are better able to hear outside noises.

If you have mild dementia, you may continue to drive. But, you want to stop when your memory weakens and you are unable to remember where you need to go. You may not appreciate the challenges of driving.

As your reflexes slow down, you may not be able to respond as quickly as needed while you are driving. Try to not to get too close to the car in front of you, brake sooner, and, if possible, stay out of rush-hour traffic. If you need to drive when the roads are busy, try to keep to the right lane.

If you are taking medicines, be sure to note whether the warning label includes side effects like drowsiness or lightheadedness.  If so, driving can be unsafe, and you should not be driving. Be sure to check the warning labels on your medicines and discuss them with your doctor to see whether you should be driving while taking them.

To be safe, try not to drive when the weather is bad and at night and avoid highways, if possible. Here are helpful tips on how to help someone you love decide when to stop driving.

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