I lived in North Carolina for 6 months several years ago, where I used uber to the supermarket a lot. Every time when I open the door of the back seats, the senior driver would turn back, smiling: “Hi lady.”
It’s not uncommon to see seniors driving cars on highways. An expert says that driving is a source of independence for many seniors, so determining when they should hang up the keys requires careful consideration.
Primary care providers are uniquely poised to counsel patients about driving safety because they understand their patients’ health conditions, capacities, challenges and goals.” Said Dr. Ericka Tung from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
It should be noticed that there’s no single test to determine whether it’s time for a senior to stop driving, but health care providers can determine by looking at several areas of physical and mental functioning to assess a senior’s driving fitness.
Vision includes depth perception and visual fields. Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and the distance of an object. With bad depth perception, you may have blurred vision, strabismus, amblyopia, etc.
Visual field refers to the degrees you can see, which can be examined through a visual field test.
Thinking skills include changes in memory, attention or language.
Mobility and physical function
This includes range of motion and coordination of the neck, upper body and lower body.
Health conditions that could affect the ability to safely operate a vehicle
Medications that could impair alertness
Input from family members or other care providers
The above information can all contribute to understanding the senior’s driving performance, ability to do daily basic tasks of living, or their history of falls, and can be used to determine if the senior needs a driver safety refresher course or should stop driving.
Open dialogue is encouraged between patients, families and primary care teams to ensure safety on the road, and it’s critical that seniors stop driving at the appropriate time, not after they’ve had a crash.