Aging, memory impairment and driving

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

If you drive, you probably don't give much thought to getting from here to there — unless you're filling up your gas tank, of course. It's something that's easy to take for granted. As you age, this will change. For an older person, driving is the difference between living and existing. Giving up the car is a senior's worst nightmare — just as it would be for anyone with a drivers license.

A column in automedia.com entitled, "Senior Drivers, Time to Give Up the Keys?," cites the following numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "The crash rate per mile increases slowly at age 65; then, at 85, it soars to a rate nine times higher than that for all drivers between 25 and 69. The only age with a worse crash rate per mile are 16-year olds."

To me there is an interesting correlation here. Driving accidents soar at the same age (85 and older) as incidences of memory impairment surface. The Altzhiemer's Association estimates that half of those over the age of 85 have some type of dementia.

To illustrate what this could mean for us at a local level, here is some demographic information about Erie County.

Between 2005 and 2010 the number of people age 80 to age 89 is projected to increase by 174. For those age 90 and older that age group also will grow by 209. (Source: Profiles & Projections of the 60 + Population in Erie County, Ohio; Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University of Ohio). Half of them could be memory impaired drivers — provided their physical health allows them to still get behind the wheel.

If the driving ability of you, or someone you know, is deteriorating, here are a couple to things you should know. The American Medical Association recommends two tests that a family doctor can administer in an office to measure cognitive function. One is called the "Clock Drawing Test" and the other is called the "Trails B Test." They take about five minutes to do and will indicate whether or not the person's cognitive abilities are failing. For a more in-depth medical assessment, older adults can get what's called a "Geriatric Assessment." Cleveland's University Hospitals Case Medical Center  Foley Elder Health Center (216-844-6300) offers the service, and it's covered by Medicare insurance.

There is no simple answer, but one thing is certain.

It's an issue worthy of an efficient and effective means of intervention — for everyone's sake.

Comments

Rick Studer

Art Vandalay…. What? Is drunk school on summer recess? Pretty harsh words considering you’re the only guy in town with personalized yellow license plates. Take it from me Art, hot chocolate taste good anytime of day…

Anonymous

You act as though it about you. It is not. Safety on the highway means everyone. Drunks, drugs, speeding, & yes YOU the senior. Habitual poor driving is wrong & shouldn't be tolerated on our roads. You have no entitlement, to hurt others . SENIORS NEED RE-TESTED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous

Look @ the post; it says, If you don't like it." Just like an old person that is stubborn, you don't admit your errors, but like to tell everyone else your agenda. The same hardheaded attitude is behind many of today's seniors when it comes to driving. I recall my neighbor Paul who had one eye. When he went to renew, he flunked. Guess what? HE KEPT DRIVING ANYWAY!

Anonymous

Mr. Rick Studer I dont know what your problem is that you must personally attack me. Perhaps you are one of the elderly drivers in question? Or maybe you are just a trailer living piece of trash that probably drives a half wrecked 1984 Chevrolet Celebrity around town. I was commenting to Sue and not you who seems to have nothing to do but voice your opinion. Do you actually have a job? You know nothing about me, i will admit to a few slip ups but i dont not have a problem.

Rick Studer

Ok Re Sues Blog, I don’t not want to upset you…

Anonymous

I don't see any errors.I think you just can't comprehend what your reading.Maybe you should have someone else read the statement and explain it to you.Maybe if you read it 7 OR 8 more times you'll see just how dumb you are.Good luck!

Anonymous

Sue-

The camera is over HERE! Look! OVER HERE!

Anonymous

the correct expression is go take a long walk off a short pier.

Anonymous

Here we go again. Mr. Studer has once again reared his ugly head to serve insult and injustice to all. Get a life Rick. You make about as much sense as McCain's V.P. choice. You are full of more crap than either of those worthless presidential candidates. By the way Mr. Studer you never answered any of my statements or questions. Have you finally been silenced? Oh and to Boomer, thanks for your I.Q. raising comment that we all knew about 50 yrs ago, welcome to the 20th century.

Anonymous

Hope you don't drive,........

Anonymous

Art Vandalay wrote:

'Oh and to Boomer, thanks for your I.Q. raising comment that we all knew about 50 yrs ago, welcome to the 20th century. '

To what 'comment' are you referring to exactly?

Make nice Arty; just trying to have a 'polite' conversation here. I understand that hiding behind a funny ‘Seinfield’ name makes you braver than you would be in person, but that’s no reason to be uncivil is it?

Anonymous

Did you mean welcome to the 21st century?

Anonymous

where am i? and how did i lose my car? has anyone seen me?

Anonymous

We have the power and the money.Except for welfare senior's who never saved a dime.Your never going to single us out for retesting,never.

Rick Studer

Art Seinfeld… I have always sought out and engaged Idiots, Republicans and butchers of the English language, or any combination of the afore mentioned three. It has never been my intention to debate the mentally infirm or residents of local institutions. With that in mind please accept my apologies and best wishes. May I suggest you wrest control of the lounge remote tonight and watch Dirty Harry on AMC. Well dressed man with a large gun working the streets of San Francisco should be right up your proverbial alley…

Anonymous

Ok here we go, I have heard it all before concering my name. My full name is Melvin Artemus Vandalay, it is not fake, that is my name. I am called Art because i have a cousin who is appoximately a year older than me, he was also named Melvin. So to avoid confusion the family called him Mel and me Art. I have gone by Art ever since, and yes I hear the Seinfeld jokes. The name on Seinfeld is spelled differently, and i guess with all you peoples logic that everyone named John Connor is hunted by The Terminator. So Mr. Boomer i am plenty brave and would have no problem debating you about fact, but you seem to only want to discuss fiction. At least even Rick Studer makes a point when he is talking, all be it moranic.

Anonymous

to clarify my comment that some have judged so harshly;

someone used the expression go take a short walk off a long pier at 10:15a and someone else thought it was funny at 8:16p on 08-27-08.

i was informing them of the correct version and not debating anyone. have a nice day.

Rick Studer

TO: ms boomer

Thank you dear for the clarification; it’s so nice to see grace and manners mixed among the rabble on this blog. You too have a nice day!

Anonymous

hey art, moranic? how bout MORONIC,you sound like a moran loL

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