Driving in older age
Prince Philip’s car crash earlier this year sparked a debate around the safety of elderly drivers. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) the risk of being involved in a car accident increases after the age of 70 and is even higher in drivers over the age of 80. Prince Philip was 97 when he was forced to admit defeat and hand over the keys to his car.
Our population is getting older, with a large percentage of adults driving into their 70’s and 80’s and many older drivers are just as capable of driving safely as younger people. There is no legal requirement to stop driving at a certain age but UK drivers must legally review their license when they reach 70 years old (this does not involve retaking a driving test, it’s simply a case of filling out an application form). In this blog, we look at the physical and mental aspects of getting older that might contribute to needing to stop driving – and what to do if it’s the end of the road for an elderly driver…
As we get older, our hearing and eyesight deteriorate. This can cause significant issues with driving like reduced peripheral vision, which can impact the ability to judge distances safely, and hearing problems which make hearing oncoming traffic difficult. Arthritis is common in elderly people, their muscles weaken, and flexibility and coordination deteriorate. This may cause difficulties at junctions when they need to turn to see oncoming traffic clearly. There may also be some cognitive impairment as reaction times are impaired and we become slower to react to changes in the speeds of other vehicles, unable to cope with multiple signs, road markings and lack of awareness of other road users.
Driving means freedom and independence – and the last thing you may want to do is stop your elderly relative from getting behind the wheel. Before doing that, consider a change of car – something that is easier to drive. Avoid driving at night, in bad weather or long distances. A refresher test may also be an option. Their GP can advise if there are any specific health concerns – and if there’s any chance they are putting themselves or others at risk, then it may be time to take their keys away. But there’s no shortage of alternatives to driving:
- Get to know the local bus or train routes. Over 70s are entitled to free or subsidised bus and rail travel in the UK.
- Cycling and walking are both great ways for able older people to get regular, non-strenuous exercise.
- Community transport’ is typically run by the voluntary sector for the local community and on a not-for-profit basis.
- Family members, friends and neighbours may be able to offer lifts. It’s also worth being aware that a Blue Badge disabled parking permit can be used in any vehicle as long as the badge holder is present.
Losing access to driving isn’t the end of the world, but it will be a difficult transition. Ensuring the safety of your loved one is worth it.
Other articles you may like
- Helping to combat lonelinessHelping to combat loneliness Unfortunately, 50% of individuals aged over 60 are at risk of social isolation and one-third will experience some degreeContinue reading “Helping to combat loneliness”
- Live independently at home for longerWe have spoken before about top tips for fall proofing your home and this really can have a significant impact as falls will often be a key contributor to needing more round the clock care as they can have serious implications for the elderly depending on the severity.
- Three huge benefits of walking for the elderlyThree huge benefits of walking for the elderly Did you know that May is National Walking Month? As the country is opening upContinue reading “Three huge benefits of walking for the elderly”
- What care options are available?Families going through the emotional stress of placing a spouse or relative into care, often tell us they find the terminology confusing so this blog aims to help explain the different types of care available. Understandably, most elderly people want to live independently in their own homes for as long as they can. But many people are not aware of what their local options are.
- A moment to reflect this Aprild you know that we celebrated National Reflection Day recently? Reflection day is about taking time to connect, supporting the millions of people who are grieving and remembering the family, friends, neighbours and colleagues we’ve lost over the last two years. Marie Curie spearheaded the campaign for a Day of Reflection to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the first UK Lockdown – and to let bereaved people know that they are not alone.
- What is home care?Many of our clients want to live independently in their own home for as long as they can. It is for this reason they choose us as the home care service we provide in and around the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks areas helps facilitate this.
- Why hire an at-home carer?Why hire an at-home carer? We love our families dearly and in an ideal world we’d all be able to take care ofContinue reading “Why hire an at-home carer? “
- Welcoming in spring at Birchwood Care ServicesWelcoming in spring at Birchwood Care Services Spring has sprung at Birchwood Care Services. The official start to the season might not beContinue reading “Welcoming in spring at Birchwood Care Services”
- Sharing the Valentine’s love this FebruarySharing the Valentine’s love this February Celebrating our staff This month, Birchwood Care Services is sharing the Valentine’s love with a blog celebratingContinue reading “Sharing the Valentine’s love this February”