Changes to the body and mind that occur as a person ages can have an impact on their driving ability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 257,000 drivers aged 65 and up were hospitalized as a result of car accidents in 2017, while nearly 7,700 lost their lives in vehicle accidents that same year. It is important for older adults to be mobile, but it is also important that they take the proper steps to prevent age-related accidents.
What makes older adults more vulnerable to car accidents?
Vision issues impact seniors at a higher rate than other age groups. For instance, people over the age of 70 have a 30% chance of developing macular degeneration, which is an eye disorder that causes vision loss. Additionally, it is estimated that 22 million Americans will have some form of macular degeneration by 2020.
Older drivers can experience other health issues that may compromise their safety behind the wheel. This includes Alzheimer’s and dementia, which causes forgetfulness, disorientation, problems concentrating, and difficulty thinking. When these symptoms occur while driving, the risk of an accident grows.
What can people do to prevent these issues?
Older drivers and their families must be vigilant about safe driving. Eyeglass prescriptions should be kept up to date and vision issues should be assessed right away by an eye doctor. If a person takes medication, they must be sure to read the instructions and follow them if they prohibit the operation of heavy machinery due to any intoxicating effects.
Seniors can also make use of other modes of transportation if driving becomes too difficult or stressful. Public transportation is an affordable option for most people, while there are also senior shuttles and services in many cities that can assist the elderly from getting to and from their destination.