Senior Scene, August 27 2018

Maintaining a driver’s license is an important issue of independence for mature Canadian drivers, especially for those who have been driving most of their life.  However, the ageing process brings forth changes that can affect the older driver’s ability to drive safely. These include: reduced vision, particularly at night; a decrease in depth perception; and movement-limiting disabilities such as arthritis and rheumatism that slow down responses and reflexes.

Canada Safety Council reminds all mature drivers, and people who care about their ageing loved ones, to be conscious of the physical and mental challenges that ageing brings, and how it can affect their driving. There is no specific age at which people can no longer drive. The rate of ageing varies for each individual, and it is important to recognize age-related changes and learn how to compensate for them.

Medications can also affect seniors’ ability to drive. Older drivers are very likely to be taking several medications at once. It is essential to know if the medication(s) will affect their driving abilities. Some of the main factors in collisions involving older drivers are slow response, not seeing a sign, a car, or a pedestrian, and interaction with other drivers.  Medications can make a driver more susceptible to any of these factors.

Having more than one doctor prescribe medications without knowing what the others are prescribing can produce unexpected side effects and bad reactions, which can affect driving abilities. Tell your doctor and pharmacist all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs.

While tragic stories of traffic collisions involving seniors sometimes draw calls for age-specific limits on drivers’ licenses, a more realistic and practical solution lies in improving driver education and driver fitness.

The Canada Safety Council’s “55 Alive” driver refresher course helps mature drivers sharpen and update their skills, giving them tools to help stay safe on the road. The course teaches practical defensive driving techniques, slowing down, driving during the day, and reducing the length of trips – all of which can help mitigate age-related challenges and keep mature drivers safer.

While independence is important to us all, we must face the fact someday we will no longer be able to drive. As many baby-boomers watch their parents deal with ageing, some difficult questions arise: How do I know when mom or dad cannot or should not drive anymore? How do I tell them?

The “55 Alive” course can be a good way for families to bring up this sensitive subject with mature drivers. Part of the course helps them prepare for the day they cannot drive anymore by helping them learn to make alternative transportation arrangements and adjust to the change in lifestyle.

CCSH will be hosting a “55 Alive” driver refresher course on Wed. September 26th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at their Belleville office.  The program is facilitated by David Short who is a certified instructor through Canada Safety Council.  Lunch, refreshments and course materials are provided for a small fee of $35.00.  You can expect to:

  • Gain more confidence behind the wheel
  • Improve your awareness of traffic hazards
  • Update yourself on traffic laws and new technology
  • Anticipate the actions of other drivers
  • Identify and correct bad driving habits
  • Voice your concerns in a friendly, relaxed environment

Please call Lana at 613-969-0130 to register.

Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert- Executive Director of CCSH, 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1.  Please visit our website at https://ccsh.ca, or email me at shell-leew@ccsh.ca or check out our CCSH Facebook page, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance.  CCSH is a proud United Way member agency.  Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network