Driving Safety Tips for Seniors
A change in driving ability can come on gradually, or relatively quickly if there has been a dramatic change in a senior’s health, affecting his or her judgment on the road. Be aware of the following conditions that can be precursors to potentially serious car accidents:
- “Careless ” driving: Numerous close calls, almost crashing, denting and scrapping the car on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs.
- Police pullovers: Tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers for not complying with the rules of the road.
- Difficulty with driving mechanics: Making sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, braking or accelerating suddenly without reason, failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes.
- Eyesight problems: Physical changes to the eyes can cause a senior to not see clearly or respond as quickly to traffic lights or street signs from an appropriate distance.
- Hearing problems: Decreased ability to hear or respond to signals that might necessitate quick action, such as emergency sirens or honking horns.
- Memory problems: Confusion regarding roads and/or missing exits that used to be very familiar, or getting lost frequently.
- Diminished reflexes and range of motion: Not reacting quickly enough if there’s a need to brake suddenly, confusing the gas and brake pedals, becoming flustered while driving, or being quick to anger when behind the wheel.
Know what you can do to be a safe senior driver
- Schedule regular check-ups: This includes eye, hearing, coordination and reflex tests, as well as an overall health assessment.
- Customize your car for safe driving: An occupational therapist or a certified driving rehabilitation specialist can prescribe equipment to make it easier to steer your car or to operate the pedals. Consider driving a car with automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes and large mirrors.
- Drive defensively: This includes such safe driving basics as leaving enough space for the car in front of you, paying extra attention at intersections, and making sure you are driving with the flow of traffic. Take a defensive driving course if possible.
- Acknowledge your limitations: If a driving situation makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. As the adage goes, “Better safe than sorry.” Try and accomplish tasks during daytime hours to help with possible vision impairment.
- Listen to the concerns of others: If relatives, friends, or others express concerns about your driving, it may be time to take an honest look at your driving ability.
- Exercise: Be physically active or exercise regularly to improve strength and flexibility.
Winter Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors
Each year, 2.8 million elderly adults are treated for falls, many of these are related to cold-weather conditions, which can create slippery or icy surfaces. Winter and the holidays should be times of joyous celebrating with family and friends. Over 800,000 of these falls require intervention.
Some reasons why falls risks increase with age:
- As we advance in age, the sensation in our feet can decline, especially if we suffer from diabetes, poor circulation, arthritis, or lingering complications from a stroke. When this sensation decreases, it will affect our balance. Slippery surfaces are no place to lose your balance.
- Many elderly adults are on multiple medications, which can cause side effects such as dizziness or even dementia. These conditions pose a significant risk for falling.
- Many elderly adults walk with an unsteady gait, even when weather is not a factor. In addition, for seniors without adequate exercise habits, muscles can weaken, and leave them more susceptible to falls.
Here are some suggestions for preventing falls
- Plan ahead. When possible, plan trips around the weather. If you do not need to go out, don’t go out. Wait for the weather and travel conditions to become clear.
- Allow enough time to get where you are going. The chances of falling increase when you rush and use less caution.
- Exercise caution when getting into and out of vehicles. Always hold securely to a door or another person.
- Take the path of least resistance. Look for the safest route to your location, including the paths into buildings. Choose alternate routes when necessary.
- Ask for help. Ask someone to help you navigate slippery or unsafe paths.
- Concentrate on the path ahead. Take your time and walk slowly and deliberately. Try to place each foot flat on the ground with each step.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Wear shoes or boots with rough-textured soles that provide good grip in all kinds of weather conditions.
- Avoid carrying items. Wear gloves if necessary to keep hands free for stabilization and balance.
- Use handrails when they are provided. Holding securely to a handhold can prevent a fall if you should slip.
Safety Tips for Seniors Living Alone
Of women over the age of 6, 32% live alone live alone. Here are some practical tips to keep safe when you live alone!
1. Keep and Maintain an Emergency Kit
2. Invest in Medical Alert Jewelry
3. Avoid Slips and Falls
4. Manage Your Medications
5. Protect Yourself from Break-ins and Burglaries- have a home inspection by a security company, and invest in a home alarm system for the best protection.
How to Make Your Home Safe, as a Senior
Senior Citizen Safety: Self Defense & Personal Safety Tips
Seniors Living Alone