Doctors Should Start Discussions Earlier on Driving Risks of Older Adults

The chance of sustaining injuries or being killed in a traffic accident increases with age. Elderly drivers are considered risks both to themselves and other drivers on the road for a variety of reasons. The stigma of reducing driving hours with age can ultimately lead to injuries on the road.

For instance, physical impairments could be an issue, such as gripping a steering wheel and maintaining control could be difficult. Health conditions or certain medications may interfere with ability to focus and react. But even just the effects of aging can impede driving, including cognitive functioning and vision.

Now a new study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and College of Nursing finds that doctors are waiting too long to talk with their elderly patients about driving as an older adult.

Oftentimes the topic of driving isn’t raised until a doctor or other medical provider notices problems. But the researchers found that many elderly drivers were open to having the discussion earlier. Researchers suggest starting the conversation when the person turns 65.

It’s not an easy subject to discuss, as it means taking away a form of independence. But it is necessary so the individual may be better prepared for making that transition; it could even lead to safer roads.

The following are some signs that may indicate an older adult should stop driving: 

  • difficulty with memory;
  • reflexes are limited;
  • vision is blurred or there are difficulties seeing;
  • taking several medications; and
  • problems hearing.

The risk of a car accident can be increased under certain circumstances in addition to age, though. Whether it’s a newly licensed driver or one who has been driving for decades, it could be that negligence of another driver led to a crash. For legal help after a car accident, contact the law firm of Gacovino, Lake & Associates.

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