Your elderly mother has always been a safe driver but lately something’s changed. Mom can’t seem to concentrate, she’s having trouble judging distances, and last week she got lost coming home from the store- again. Your mother’s driving has now reached the point that you’re worried about her health and wellbeing. What should you do? In addition to the aging process itself, many older motorists face driving impairment challenges caused by certain medications. Before asking your parent to turn over the car keys for good, check their medicine cabinet first.
How Certain Medications Affect Elderly Drivers
Driving helps many older adults stay mobile and independent. But poor visual acuity, mild cognitive impairment, and chronic health conditions can all interfere with an elder’s ability to drive.
Nearly two-thirds of all Americans aged 65+ also take five or more daily medications. And although those medications can help keep your aging loved one feeling fit and healthy, many of them can also cause dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion.
In fact, some medications can affect elderly drivers in these ways:
- Depth perception
- Reaction times
Many seniors don’t read prescription bottle warning labels like they should. Combining certain OTC products, herbal remedies, or supplements with prescription medications can also cause dangerous side effects- including driving impairment. That’s why it’s important for your parent to discuss any potential side effects with their pharmacist, especially when starting a new medication.
Many Older Motorists Take these Medications
As the body ages its ability to tolerate medications changes, which may exacerbate side effects. Here is a list of the more common medications that may impair older motorists:
- Some antidepressants
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-seizure drugs
- Drugs prescribed for anxiety
- Antihistamines (allergy medications)
- Cough and cold remedies
- Narcotic pain pills
- Tranquilizers and sleep aides
- Certain heart and blood pressure medications
Helping an Aging Parent Safely Get Around
Here are several ways to keep your aging parent safer while getting them to and from their daily activities:
Do a “brown bag” review
The next time your parent sees their doctor get their permission to tag along. But first, ask your loved one to put all their prescription bottles, supplements, and OTC medications in a brown paper bag. Then have their doctor review all those meds so they can identify any potential drug interactions or side effects that might be impairing your senior’s driving.
Their doctor or pharmacist might also be able to recommend taking a specific medicine at a different time of day, but don’t allow your loved one to stop a medication or change when they take it without first consulting a health care professional.
Help manage their meds
Adverse drug events (ADEs) resulting from not taking medications as prescribed are a common problem in the elderly. Keeping your senior safer while on the road could be as simple as helping them devise a more effective medication management program.
That process might include anything from keeping an updated list of medications on their fridge, reading the labels for warnings and possible drug interactions, or making sure that their prescriptions are getting refilled on time.
Find them transportation alternatives
When taking certain medications for the first time it may be wise for your parent to avoid driving altogether for at least a few days as their body adjusts to the medicine. Other medications may cause permanent driving impairment which means that you’ll need to find mom or dad suitable transportation alternatives so they can stay active and socially engaged.
Some possible transportation sources in your area may include:
- Trustworthy family members or neighbors
- Public transportation tailored to seniors
- Community volunteers
- A ride-sharing service (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
- Licensed home care agency
Safe & Reliable Transportation for Independent Seniors
Safely transporting an aging loved one where they need to be can be challenging when you’re too busy or live far away. When you need a hand, give us a call! As a fully licensed home care agency our highly trained and carefully screened aides can safely and reliably transport your senior to their medical appointments, the store, social activities, or elsewhere.
In addition to transportation, our compassionate caregivers can also deliver services like light housekeeping, personal care, meals, companionship, and medication reminders.
And for your added convenience all our home care amenities can be individually personalized into an affordable package based on your budget! To learn more, or to schedule a FREE in-home consultation for a senior in our service area today, please call or visit us online!