Older adults who are able to maintain their independence are happier and healthier, and driving is a key activity that helps seniors stay mobile and maintain that independence.
But the risk of being injured in a motor vehicle crash increases as we age, as age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning, as well as physical changes, may affect some older adults’ driving abilities.
Physicians are required by law to report disorders characterized by lapses of consciousness, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, and should report any other condition they believe would affect the driver’s ability to drive safely. Any disorder or condition that might interfere with the alertness, strength, physical coordination, agility, judgment, or skill necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle is a concern to the DMV.
Unlike senior drivers with motor function or vision impairments who may self-restrict their driving, limiting themselves to driving only during daylight or avoiding the freeway, those suffering from dementia will continue driving even when it is unsafe for them to do so.
It is often up to family members and caregivers to put a stop to the senior’s driving and arrange alternative transportation for them. But, according to a recent study, when an older adult’s license to drive is revoked or restricted, it affects many more people than just the older adult. Family and friends reported many lifestyle changes as well as emotional reactions nearly as strong as those of the former driver.
This change in lifestyle can cause undue stress for those responsible for the well-being of an older adult. If you are the caregiver or loved one of a senior who has recently lost the ability to drive and does not have access to public transportation, there are several local services that can help.
My Rides is a volunteer-based transportation service to non-emergency medical appointments, errands and other essential services for eligible seniors and individuals. Rides must be scheduled in advance and are available Monday through Friday. Visit SeniorsFirst.org/my-rides for more information or call (800) 878-9222 to schedule a ride.
Health Express is an advance reservation, shared-ride transportation service to non-emergency medical appointments with physicians, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, therapists and other clinicians. Fees range from $1.25 to $10 per ride and discounts are available. The service is open to eligible residents of Placer County, including seniors and disabled individuals. Eligibility will be verified prior to service use. Visit SeniorsFirst.org/health-express for more information or call (530) 745-7560 to make a reservation.