Last Friday evening, the first batch of snow fell from the sky. It was such a pretty sight- a sight that I watched for an hour and a half while stuck in traffic on the typically 12-minute drive home. Although it was a frustrating experience, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like for an older adult who suffered from arthritis or diminished vision.
Driving is a luxury that gives individuals the ability to get from point A to point B. Not only is it a source of transportation that enables travel through the city, but it is also, in large part, a source of independence. It grants flexibility, reliability and freedom.
However, many aging adults that fill the 65 and up generation could be struggling with this. As we grow older, it’s normal to have the expected signs of aging, but we don’t always consider the symptoms, such as failing eye site and discomfort in joints. What’s even more telling, is that although these are recognized symptoms that can be tended to with medication, it more often than not goes unrecognized how these symptoms can affect daily living, and that includes driving.
According to Autos.ca, with data gathered from a recent AAA survey, “only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless car entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with conditions.” AAA aims to assist the ‘silver tsunami’ by addressing this issue and providing older adults with a list of vehicle features that can enable a safer and more comfortable driving experience.
Some of the recommendations from AAA’s Smart Features for Older Drivers include:
· “Drivers suffering from hip or leg pain, decreased leg strength or limited knee range of motion should look for vehicles with six-way adjustable power seats and seat heights that come between the driver’s mid-thigh and lower buttocks. These features can make it easier for drivers to enter and exit a vehicle.”
· “Drivers with arthritic hands, painful or stiff fingers or diminished fine motor skills benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls with buttons. These features reduce the amount of grip strength needed and reduce pain associated with turning or twisting motions.”
· “Drivers with diminished vision or problems with high-low contrast will find vehicles with auto-dimming mirrors, large audio and climate controls and displays with contrasting text helpful. These features can reduce blinding glare and make controls and displays easier to see.”
In one of our previous posts, Can technology help you on the road?, we addressed how technology is being used to assist researchers who are trying to help keep older drivers on the road longer. Sometimes, it isn’t just about the newest gadget installed in the car, but what can provide comfort and stability that will instill confidence in its driver. Safe driving during the winter weather everyone. Vroom vroom!