Elderly Driving Safety in Winter Weather
Driving naturally becomes more challenging as we age, but winter weather can compound these difficulties and make driving quite treacherous. Here, the home care and elderly caregivers at Avila Home Care provide tips for elderly drivers when traveling in winter conditions.
Prepare for the Winter Driving Season
A car that is in optimal driving condition will be better able to handle icy, snowy or slippery roads. Have your car inspected to ensure that the tires are at their proper pressure, and that the brakes are functioning correctly. A car’s battery is more likely to die in colder weather, so an old battery should be replaced immediately. Windshield wipers are another crucial winter driving component–replace worn wipers, and periodically remove debris from the window bay that may hamper their movement. Have an oil change done, and top off antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid levels.
Have Routine Physical Examinations Performed
As we age, our senses, coordination and reaction time may begin to fade, so it is critical to have regular examinations performed to ensure that you are still physically fit to drive. Follow your doctor’s orders–if you are only allowed to drive with glasses, a hearing aid, during the day or in certain conditions, be sure to adhere to these recommendations. However, if your doctor does approve your ability to drive, but you do not personally feel comfortable getting behind the wheel, do not push yourself to do so: it is important to recognize the signs your body is giving you, and not take unnecessary risks.
Pack an Emergency Car Kit
“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst:” this adage is doubly true when it comes to driving safety. Create a car emergency kit, which should include a blanket, flares, snow shovel, extra ice scraper, an extra set of warm clothes, ice melt or salt and cat litter, which can help to provide traction if your car’s wheels get stuck in a snow drift or on a patch of ice. As we age, our bodies becomes more susceptible to the cold, so be sure to include a hat, scarf and mittens or gloves within your extra set of warm clothing.
Create a Safety Net
Before heading out on a drive, ensure that a friend or loved one knows where you are going, what route you will be taking and when to expect you home. This will make it easier for you to be found and assisted should an emergency occur. Get into the habit of doing this for any trip, regardless of distance–accidents can happen on even the shortest of car rides, especially in the wintertime. Be sure to get in touch with loved ones before you leave and after you’ve arrived so that they know you are safe.
Find Alternative Modes of Transportation
In particularly bad winter weather, even the most prepared driver may need to choose an alternate mode of transportation. There are a plethora of transportation options available to seniors, including public transportation, paratransit, van services, Uber or Lyft or even carpooling. For those who are unable to drive, or simply prefer the peace-of-mind alternate transportation offers, hiring a caregiver to act as a personal driver can be a wonderful options. At Avila Home Care, our screened and experienced caregivers are available to take care of any of your needs, including driving. For more information, contact us today!
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