Did you know Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity to explore wide-ranging issues impacting aging adults and their driving? The event occurs every December and, this year, there was plenty of information offered to keep seniors safe year-round. One of the biggest issues explored was the prevalence of medical issues affecting Older Americans, and the associated medications prescribed to treat them.
Medications often have side-effects, and when combined with other factors such as declining vision, hearing, and physicality, a number of dangerous scenarios can unfold on the road. While that is concerning enough, there are also a number of acute medical conditions that can make driving unsafe at any speed. Let us share several examples with you here in our blog, together with ways we can plan forward to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible when operating a motor vehicle.
1. Dementia. Did you know there are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and that is just one form of dementia? The vast majority of people afflicted with the disease are seniors. The condition involves memory loss, impaired judgment, and diminished problem solving. All of these characteristics are dangerous when driving and they are issues we need to discuss with our loved ones and professionals, sooner rather than later.
2. Arthritis. Arthritis is a medical condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the body. While there are different types of arthritis, most result in pain and swelling of the joints. This can limit basic mobility required for safe driving, but does not rule out driving in every instance. Talk to a doctor about safe, non-impairing medicines, and monitor potential side-effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness. You may not know this but certain vehicle modifications can also compensate for arthritis-related mobility deficits.
3. Stroke. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is inhibited, at which point brain cells begin to die. Having a stroke can cause a person to be unable to speak, see, think clearly or control physical movements. Stroke also may cause temporary or permanent weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Rehabilitation can help restore lost movement, but driving is something that should be carefully considered with a doctor as obvious risks apply. Do not wait to discuss this with your loved ones.
4. Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder that affects the nervous system and muscle movement. It can cause a person’s hands, arms, and legs to shake even when they are relaxed. People with Parkinson’s may also have poor balance and coordination. These unfortunate symptoms make driving risky, along with certain medications prescribed to treat it.
While no specific condition is an automatic barrier to driving, you and your loved ones need to take precautions. If you or someone you know is an older driver suffering from a serious medical issue and would like guidance regarding possible legal considerations, do not wait to schedule a meeting to discuss this. Each day we work with families just like yours to ensure that they can plan forward for all the complications that can come from long-term care and health-related issues. We are your local law firm that is ready and willing to help you face these issues.