A survey of 500 seniors by the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), a non-profit organization based in CA, found that seniors make ten common mistakes regarding their health.  If seniors would make changes in the areas identified by IHA, they could avoid health problems and enjoy a healthier, better quality of life for a longer time.

While some seniors will take the initiative when presented with this information, many others need intervention to change their behaviors.  A geriatric care manager can be instrumential in effecting changes in health care behaviors when families have tried and failed.  The role reversal and accompanying stress that occurs when well-intentioned relatives intervene can be avoided when a professional assists with health related and social issues.

Today we will talk about Mistake #1: Driving when it is no longer safe.

The Problem:

Most seniors believe they retain safe driving habits and skills longer than they actually do.  Changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time affect driving skills as people age.  Many seniors compensate for these changes by avoiding driving during rush hour, staying off freeways, and not driving after dark.  However, these limits do not affect such problems as confusing the accelerator and brake pedals or turning left in front of oncoming traffic, common reasons for crashes involving elderly drivers.  Older adults with cognitive impairments such as memory loss or disorientation to time or place cause risk to themselves and others when they continue to drive.  They may lose their way, ending up many miles from their intended destinations, they may lose their car in parking lots, and they may be unable to find their way home.

The Solution:

AARP and AAA offer programs to maximize the skills of older drivers.  Some states offer a reduction in car insurance premiums for drivers who complete the course.  Seniors should ask for input regarding their driving skills from their families and doctors.  Driver testing can be arranged through the sites that test for driver’s licenses or through agencies that train disabled people to drive.  If drivers refuse to stop driving, a geriatric care manger can intervene to arrange for proper evaluation and alternatives to driving.

Matrix Advocare Network is a provider of geriatric nursing care mangement services serving the Twin Cities metro and surrounding communites.  Matrix Team Home Care provides at home health care services.

Our next blog will discuss Mistake #2:  Fighting the aging process.