Geriatric Psychiatry




As we age, our driving abilities change. We will give safe driving advice. We will also discuss warning signs that you should stop driving. Here are some tips to help you adapt your life.

Age and driving:

  • Aging can cause a loss of physical strength, flexibility, and coordination, which can affect the ability to safely control a vehicle.
  • Neck pain and stiffness make it difficult to look behind you.
  • Leg pain makes switching between the gas and brake pedals difficult.
  • Less arm strength makes it difficult to turn the steering wheel quickly.
  • Aging can slow reaction times.
  • You may struggle to effectively divide your attention between multiple tasks.

Age-related driving safety tips

keep an eye on your health
  • Get your eyes checked annually and wear the proper glasses or contact lenses. Keep your car's windshield, mirrors, and headlights clean, and customize the dashboard lighting to your preferences.
  • Annual hearing test If you need hearing aids, make sure you wear them while driving and close the windows tightly to avoid draughts.
  • Regular exercise improves reaction time, range of motion, and strength to control a vehicle. More on exercise
  • Discuss with your doctor how illnesses or medications may impair your driving ability.
  • For safe driving, get enough sleep. More on slumber
make sure you have the right car and safety equipment
  • You can ask an occupational therapist or other specialist if the vehicle is suitable for you or if any modifications are required to make it safer.
  • Preferably an automatic with power steering and brakes.
  • Keep your car running smoothly with regular maintenance.
  • Clean the windshield, windows, mirrors, and headlights.
Drive defensively
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
  • Observe traffic signals and instructions.
  • Drive according to the traffic flow.
  • Avoid distractions like talking on the phone, texting, listening to distracting audio, or consulting a map or GPS while driving.
  • Allow enough braking distance.
  • Remember that doubling your speed (from 40 to 80 km/h) doubles your braking distance, not twice, but four times, especially if the road is wet or icy.
  • Also know your limits.
If a situation makes you nervous, avoid it:
  • Only drive during the day if night vision is an issue.
  • Avoid freeways and highways.
  • Avoid driving during rush hour if you dislike crowded areas.
  • In bad weather, avoid driving in high winds, rain and thunderstorms. Avoid driving on muddy, slippery or sandy roads.
  • Plan your route ahead of time to avoid getting lost.
consider others' concerns:

If a relative, friend, or other person is concerned about your driving, now is the time to be honest. You can see an occupational therapist or specialist, or take a refresher course. Consult your doctor about your driving ability.

Symptoms of elderly unsafe driving

  • Extra dents and scratches from fences, sidewalks, garage doors, bumpers, road signs and lighting poles.
  • Frequent traffic citations. For example, not using turn signals, or keeping them on while changing lanes.
  • Vision issues such as not seeing traffic lights and street signs clearly or having to drive closer to them.
  • Hearing issues, such as missing emergency sirens or horns.
  • Memory issues, such as missing exits or getting lost frequently. While everyone has lapses, an increasing pattern should be evaluated by a doctor.
  • Reflex and range of motion issues, such as not reacting quickly enough when braking or looking back, confusing the gas and brake pedals, getting flustered while driving, or being quick to anger.
If you cannot drive:
  • It is normal to feel frustrated, angry, or stressed when you first stop driving. Concerned about your lack of autonomy? But it takes bravery to give up driving and put your own and others' safety first.
  • Take advantage of it, as you can improve your health by walking to nearby destinations you used to be too lazy to visit. 
  • Licenses, maintenance, and fuel can all be saved. You can start using personal transportation or delivery apps on your phone. 
  • Accept delivery from a relative or friend to improve communication. You can also swap tasks with a friend or neighbors to save time, effort, and money. 
  • If possible, relocate to a location with better transportation and services.

The elderly driver and unsafe driving

For the elderly, safe driving is a sensitive subject. If you have to confront an elderly relative or friend about their driving, remember:

  • Show respect. If you have legitimate concerns, do not be intimidated or back down because they have a driver's license.
  • Give examples rather than generalizations. "You cannot drive safely," not "you turn your head slower than usual."
  • Find power in numbers. It's less likely to be taken as nagging if multiple family members or close friends have noticed. A friend or family member may also consult a doctor or driving expert.
  • Offer him rides, help him find suitable transportation, or teach him how to use mobile delivery apps.
  • Recognize the challenge of change. 
  • Stopping driving can cause loneliness or depression. 
  • If it is safe, reduce driving at night, avoid highways, and use public transportation in addition to driving.
  • A close person can help convince an elderly person to stop driving, notify authorities, hide keys, sell or disable the car if possible. It is difficult, but his and others' safety comes first.