People take medications for a variety of reasons. Many seniors take prescribed medications to control, maintain, or treat medical conditions and for allergies, depression, and pain management. In many cases, seniors may take a combination of medications to treat more than one condition.
Many people self-prescribe and take over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements to treat temporary or less severe illnesses. Taking a combination of different medications or supplements can cause problems. Age-related body changes and the number of different medications seniors take put them more at risk for medication-related problems that can affect their ability to drive safely.
How do medications affect my ability to drive safely?
Some medications or combination of medications can cause a variety of reactions that may make it difficult for you to drive safely. Some reactions include:
- Blurred vision
- Slowed reaction and movement
- Inability to focus or pay attention
Some medications taken in combination with others, with or without food, or during certain times of the day, may make it appear that you have a cognitive impairment such as dementia. At times like these, you may be an unsafe driver.
What can I do to keep driving safely while taking medications?
Talk to your physician. Ask your physician if your prescribed medication has any side effects. Ask if taking the medication will affect your driving ability. Be sure to tell your physician of any other medications, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements, you are taking.
Ask your physician if you should drive. This is especially true when you start taking a new medication and do not know exactly how it will affect you or interact with other medications you are taking.
Talk to your pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist to discuss your medications with you and review any effects they may have on your ability to drive safely.
Monitor yourself. Learn how your body reacts to the medications and supplements you are taking. If you are taking a new medication, keep track of how you feel after you take it.
Keep your physician and pharmacist up to date. Tell your physician and pharmacist of any reaction, no matter how mild, you have regarding your medication.