Most senior citizens dread the day they'll be told it's time to give up their car keys. But aging brings physical changes that jeopardize safety on the road, reports the September 2013 Harvard Health Letter. "Most people I see don't think they have any driving problems," says Barbara Moscowitz, a geriatric social worker at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "Even subtle changes in your health can affect your reaction time. You need to address them while you're well, so you can keep driving."
There are several steps seniors can take early to keep driving. Chief among them are hearing and vision tests, keeping noise inside the car to a minimum, and cutting back on night driving. Exercising and stretching can help maintain the flexibility and strength needed to operate a car. Because mental sharpness slows, Moscowitz recommends avoiding driving during busy times of day, such as rush hour, and finding different routes to avoid high traffic areas. Another important consideration for seniors is medication, which may cause side effects behind the wheel such as confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness. That's why seniors should ask a physician to evaluate all of their drugs and supplements for potential impacts on their driving skills.
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