1. Early stage dementia
During the early stages of dementia, family members may not be aware that their loved one's cognitive abilities are declining. Dementia is a term that encompasses several symptoms in the elderly. These include memory, social skills, and thinking processes. Specifically, skills needed for driving may be impaired by this condition. Such skills include memory, spatial awareness, response time, and one's decision making ability. Those living with dementia should be provided with other means by which to maneuver. While this will likely be a difficult conversation to have, not doing so could be cause for driving accidents in the future.
According to some statistics, drivers living with diabetes have a higher crash rate than those without. Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. While people with diabetes can continue to drive, they must be careful to monitor their glucose levels. As low blood sugar episodes can result in confusion, visual impairment, and irritability. As well as foot problems, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Sticking to a healthy eating plan and regular supervision of one's blood sugar levels before driving is a must. Consult with your doctor if you have concerns about your safety.
Cataracts are a white film that forms over the eyes’ natural lenses and are a common cause of loss of vision in those over 40 years old. It is also the main cause of blindness worldwide. Cataracts do not cause sudden and complete vision loss. So, drivers afflicted with cataracts will continue to drive until an accident or a near miss creates awareness of this condition. Drivers with cataracts may be faced with the following:
· double vision
· worsened night vision
· faded colors
· intense headlight glare
· blurry objects
· difficulty seeing bright lights
Ask your doctor to determine if your current eyeglass or contact lens prescription is adequate. Be open to driving less and considering alternative transportation methods.
4. Anxiety disorders
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.1 percent of the US adult population suffers from anxiety disorders. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling easily fatigued, restlessness, and muscle tension. As well as irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep problems.
Because anxiety has been shown to hinder rapid decision making, anxious drivers are at a higher risk of driving accidents. And since anxiety is a common cause of insomnia and poor sleep patterns, anxious persons have a higher danger of drowsy driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have described drowsy driving a major problem in the US. Being sleep deprived slows a driver's reaction time and affects their ability to make decisions. Limit situations where you must drive when feeling anxious. Or if you are prone to panic attacks, consider exploring other modes of transportation.
5. Medication doses
Medications may have side effects that can impair one's ability to drive safely. Typical symptoms that do so include lightheadedness, nausea, vision impairment, and drowsiness. Combinations of medication being taken at once can also further complicate and heighten symptoms. Most individuals taking medication should be able to continue driving. But if you are taking a combination of medications. Or if warnings were given along with your prescription, take a break from the road to err on the side of safety.
We hear about texting leading to car accidents, but these are other culprits that are less-talked about but just as dangerous. Driver education on these health problems is essential for safer roads in the future.