Older drivers who take multiple meds at more risk of a crash
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds nearly 50 percent of older adults who still drive report using seven or more medications.
And nearly 20 percent of older drivers are using medications that should be avoided because they have very limited therapeutic effects, the research finds.
Robert Sinclair, manager of media relations at AAA Northeast, said these are very alarming statistics since there are a record 42 million adults ages 65 and older on America's roads. This number is expected to increase over the next decade.
"It's very important that drivers monitor the medications that they're taking, especially if it's more than one," Sinclair said.
A couple of the medications older adults are taking are benzodiazepines and first-generation antihistamines, which are known to have impairing effects such as blurred vision, confusion, fatigue and lack of coordination.
Sinclair said taking such medications can increase a driver's risk for a crash by up to 300 percent.
Researchers also found the most commonly reported medications used by older drivers that affect their driving ability include cardiovascular prescriptions. Seventy-three percent of them take these meds to treat heart and blood vessel conditions. Seventy percent also take central nervous system agents to treat parts of the nervous system such as the brain.
Additional data from the American Society of Health System Pharmacists shows 34 percent of older adults are prescribed medications by more than one doctor.
Sinclair suggested older drivers should share their medication lists with their doctors at each appointment and ask questions about potential side effects that could affect their driving. He also said they should write down any vitamins or supplements they take, and bring that list with them to every doctor appointment.
It's also a good idea to discuss alternatives with your doctor. Sinclair said sometimes, risks can often be reduced by taking other medications, changing the doses or the timing of the doses so it doesn't conflict with driving.
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