Our Portland Rain is here again. We were blessed with such a beautiful summer that it is a bit surprising to be driving in rain. When working with older adults it is helpful to remember that age-related vision changes and eye diseases can negatively affect their driving abilities, even before they are aware of symptoms.
Some age-related vision changes that commonly affect seniors’ driving include but aren’t limited to; not being able to see road signs as clearly, difficulty seeing objects up close, like the car instrument panel or road maps, difficulty judging distances and speed, changes in color perception, problems seeing in low light or at night, difficulty adapting to bright sunlight or glare from headlights and/or experiencing a loss of side vision. Most older adults find one or more of these changes affect them and can impact their ability to safely drive.
Here are a few suggestions to make a commute even safer. Consider using extra caution at intersections. Many collisions involving older drivers occur at intersections due to a failure to yield, especially when taking a left turn. Look carefully in both directions before proceeding into an intersection. Turn your head frequently when driving to compensate for any decreased peripheral vision. Encourage older adults that they can take time, within limits to turn.
They can reduce their speed and limit themselves to daytime driving. If they are having trouble seeing at night or their eyes have difficulty recovering from the glare of oncoming headlights, slow down and avoid driving at night. There are also glasses with yellow tints that can be used to cut the blinding glare of oncoming lights from the halogen lights.
If the older adult would like extra reassurance, encourage them to take a community or private driving refresher class. This is a great way to interact with others while learning tips and techniques to continue driving safely. You can ask your primary healthcare provider for a referral to an Occupational Therapist who is trained in assessing and recommending changes to improve their reaction time, neck turning radius and/or their problem-solving skills. Finally, encourage older adults to obtain their annual eye examination which is generally covered under their Medicare insurance.
Written by Joyce Sjoberg, RN, MA, BSN, CMCCategories: Wellbeing