by Julia Layton
The fact is, human beings age at different rates. Some drivers are as safe at 80 as they were at 40, while others probably should give up driving at 65. There are countless factors affecting an older person’s safety behind the wheel. Driving is a complex task, and it involves many systems, both physical and mental, all of which need to be in top form in order to handle the quickly changing environment of the road.
One of most drastic physical changes that occurs with age is vision deterioration. Light reception is what enables us to see, and as we age, our eyes become less sensitive to light. Also, refocusing from one object to the next takes longer, so the “simple” task of checking the speedometer and then moving our attention back to the car ahead of us becomes a lot less simple. Older eyes are also more susceptible to glare because the lenses of the eyes thicken and the pupils shrink as we get older. According to the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation, someone who is 55 takes eight times longer to regain normal vision after exposure to bright light than someone who is 16. Other visual systems affected by aging include peripheral vision, depth perception and color perception. An older person may have trouble distinguishing red lights from yellow lights or brake lights from running lights. Also, many seniors suffer from vision disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration.
All of this makes it more difficult to read road signs, react quickly to busy road conditions and accurately determine distance and speed.
Another function affected by the aging process is hearing. Hearing is an important part of safe driving — it allows us to react properly to ambulance and police sirens and the honking horns of people trying to warn us of danger or mistakes. Thirty-three percent of people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Over the age of 75, that number goes up to 75 percent. Motor skills also suffer with age. Muscles weaken, reflexes slow down and flexibility decreases. This all makes it harder to do things like turn your head to make sure it’s safe to change lanes and quickly turn the steering wheel to avoid a collision. Also, arthritis is very common among senior citizens, making quick and fluid motion and maneuverability even more difficult.
Filed under: Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease Tagged: | Always Best Care of Kane County, Alzheimer's Disease, Batavia, Campton Hills, Care for Seniors, DuPage County, Elburn, Fox Valley, Geneva, Help with Activities of Daily Living, Kane County, Non-Medical In-Home Care, North Aurora, Senior Care, Senior Home Care, Senior Transportation, St Charles, Tri-City Area, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton, Winfield