Seniors often take multiple medications for their health conditions. Around 50% of older adults who drive were found to take at least seven medications, while 20% take what some would call “inappropriate” medications because of limited access or other reasons.
The problem with taking too many medications or inappropriate medications is that they increase the likelihood of side effects, and subsequently, crashes. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, combining inappropriate medications may increase a driver’s risk of crashing by up to 300%.
The more medications you take, the greater the risk
Research has shown that taking more medications increases the risk of combining inappropriate medications that could lead to driving impairment. In one survey of 3,000 older drivers, common medications like pain pills, stimulants and those used to treat heart or blood vessel conditions, did increase the risk of getting into a crash.
What’s a little worrying about this trend is that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fewer than 18% of those who were surveyed had been warned about how prescription medications could impact their ability to drive safely. With around 42 million drivers over the age of 65 in America, you can easily see how this could greatly increase the risk of serious or fatal collisions on the roads.
What can you do to minimize the risk of crashing due to medications?
To help yourself avoid a crash, one of the best things to do is to take time to see how your medications affect you. Sit down with your medical provider to talk about side effects and interactions between medications, so you can have a good understanding of what to expect when you take them.
If you find that you take a medication and are sometimes dizzy or confused, tired or otherwise feel unlike yourself, let your medical provider know. You may be able to switch to different medications, or you may need to reconsider how you get to your destinations. Sometimes, it is time to retire your driver’s license when your medications make it unsafe for you to be behind the wheel.