Some Senior Health Issues Linked to Reduced Driving

Seniors and their families should try to safely extend driving years, quality of life

BOISE – (April 25, 2019) – A recent phase of AAA’s senior driving study found a significant link between reduced driving and diminished physical functioning and fatigue.

The AAA LongROAD study (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) is a comprehensive, multi-year project designed to better understand senior driving behavior.  While previous research points to the harmful effects of reduced driving on mental health, such as depression and feelings of isolation, AAA’s latest data confirms that there’s a physical impact as well.

“Over time, physical skills may diminish, leading to a reduction in driving, or vice versa.  But left unchecked, it can become a vicious cycle,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “The best course of action is to make the necessary adjustments to extend the driving years.”

 

Keeping seniors on the go

Older drivers can take several steps to keep themselves safe and ready for the road:

  • Strike a balance.  Instead of avoiding driving altogether, consider making changes to your driving routine.  Is it time to stop driving at night?  Is it best to avoid rush hour traffic?
  • Stay flexible.  Simple exercises can improve overall flexibility.  A better range of motion can improve your day-to-day driving skills, including parallel parking and checking your blind spots.  A list of basic exercises can be found at seniordriving.aaa.com.
  • Accessorize.  An aftermarket cushion, mirror, or other device may be part of the solution.
  • Listen to your body.  Don’t hesitate to mix it up.  Sometimes, using a bus, taxi, or ride-hailing service may be a better option.
  • Check your medication.  A prescription or over-the-counter medication may be causing fatigue and other issues, especially when used in combination with other drugs.  AAA’s Roadwise Rx (roadwiserx.com) is a great resource – just input the medications you’re taking to see how they affect your driving ability.  Then, discuss your options with your doctor.

 

“Someday, a senior may need to stop driving altogether.  If that happens, please approach the situation in a loving and compassionate way,” Conde said.  “If families set up ground rules for these discussions well in advance, it could make it a smoother transition for everyone.”