Ahhh, the American love affair with driving – it seems to be ageless!
We love the independence that being at the wheel of a car brings and that includes our senior loved ones. Giving up that freedom comes hard and often sooner than desired for many elders.
Low vision is one of the major safety issues with which our senior loved ones – and those who worry about them – must deal in staying on the road.
What is Low Vision?
Low vision is when we find that doing daily tasks becomes difficult, even with the use of glasses or contacts, medications or surgery to treat vision loss.
Low vision most commonly affects those over 65 years but it can affect anyone at any age. It is often caused by eye diseases or chronic health conditions that include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes, or glaucoma but also eye injuries. Low vision often can be treated and managed but usually full sight can’t be restored.
As caregivers, we want our senior loved ones with low vision or merely impaired vision to engage in their freedom-giving (both for them and us as caregivers) driving as long as they are safe.
Keeping Seniors Safe Behind the Wheel
- Keep your eyeglass or contact prescription up to date with annual visits and new lenses as needed. Don’t wear out dated glasses that don’t give clear vision.
- If prescribed, always wear glasses or contacts to drive. Avoid glasses with side pieces or frames that interfere with full vision.
- Do not drive a car with tinted glass that could limit vision, especially at night.
- Don’t wear sunglasses at dusk or night.
- Keep the rear view and side mirrors – as well as all windows – clean.
- Keep the headlights clean and free from debris and have them checked to be sure they are aimed correctly for safe driving in low light conditions.
- Be sure the seat is positioned so that the driver has a clear view out the window over the steering wheel.
- Make sure seat belts are used. After all, despite all other actions another driver acting unsafely can cause an accident for our senior loved one.
Hopefully these tips are reminders to us all to make adjustments to be sure we are all safe on the road!