Living as an elder can be hard. Your body hurts, memory starts to fade, and everyday culture constantly changes. Of course, it’s still important to live your life and cook, clean, and drive. However, even driving can become a chore for the elderly as vision and response rates decrease. If that’s the case with you, consider these ways to improve driving skills as a senior. Whether it’s for you or a loved one, these safety tips can help.
While driver’s education is typically reserved for teenagers and young adults, seniors can take it as well. Older drivers may find it’s more effective relearning how to drive now than when they were younger. AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) sponsored classes offer driver safety programs around the country. Otherwise, check with your local DMV for their classes. These classes can help you analyze past crashes, address driving issues or concerns, and relearn rules of the road.
Adjust Your Habits
Similarly, adjust your visual and auditory habits if these are impacting your drivability. Most senior drivers find visual issues as the main culprit in poor driving. This requires glasses or other vision-correction devices. Certainly, changing the time of day can help—like not driving at night or twilight hours—but consider a permanent solution as well. Eyeglasses can reduce glare and provide clearer narrow and peripheral vision. Also, consider physical rehabilitation. Daily physical therapy or light exercise can increase flexibility and mental response. Your coordination, dexterity, and cognition improve with daily physical activity which, in turn, improves your driving skills.
Alternatively, one way to improve driving skills as a senior is to relax. Some seniors are too anxious behind the wheel. In fact, this is called driving anxiety. Driving anxiety can range from hypervigilance while driving to a phobia of driving altogether. While it sounds extreme, there are some healthy coping techniques to reduce driving anxiety. This includes taking your time behind the wheel, implementing meditation techniques, and continual driving practice. Eventually, more time behind the wheel and healthy relaxation techniques can help you reduce or even overcome any driving anxiety you experience.
Lastly, those who truly feel they cannot drive may need to consider alternatives. When these other solutions don’t help, it may be time to give up driving. Fortunately, public transportation is a cost-efficient option. Even taxis and ride-share options can get you between destinations. Or, you can have friends or family drive you. This way, you don’t spend any money and you have a reliable person to transport you.