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#75 Surviving without Driving

“No driving” and “Give me your keys” might be the hardest words to hear or think about when vision is decreasing. Driving represents our independence, convenience, and freedom.

A recent chat on the BrightFocus website is called Surviving Without Driving. Here’s the link to the entire transcript. (link) Here are some of the important points from this wonderful chat.

The chat begins with the subject of cognitive decline and driving. A decrease in vision, hearing, and reflexes can happen so slowly that we might not be aware of it. Some red flags to suspect that driving is coming to an end:

  • Driving too slow with others blowing their horns and everyone passing.
  • Difficulty merging into traffic or making a left turn because of a decreasing judgment of the speed of oncoming cars.
  • Stepping on the gas instead of the brake pedal.
  • Having trouble with the signal light to know when it is red and when it is green.
  • Getting lost and having trouble finding the way home.

On our own, we might give up nighttime driving. We also may avoid driving at times when we know traffic is heavy. We also might use streets that don’t have as much traffic.

Additional ways to make driving safer:

  • Keeping the radio off will help concentration.
  • Don’t eat while driving.
  • Don’t talk with your hands.
  • Don’t answer your cell phone while driving.
  • Avoid copiloting. This means that the driver with low vision has someone in the passenger seat who helps with directions.  

So, what can help? How can you go to the places you want to go without being risky to yourself or others?

Rides in Sight and ITN. These programs are community-based systems that meet transportation needs.  There are about 9,000 transportation services in the Rides in Sight database at RidesinSight.org or call 855-607-4337. That hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Eastern time) The hotline can tell what is available where you live.

If there isn’t a service, ITNCountry.org can help set it up. Here is the number to call – 207-857-9001.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the info for this chat comes from the BrightFocus Macular Chat.

One final comment – We don’t want to wait until after an accident to decide it’s time to stop driving. One more final question – Do we want our grandchildren in the car when we’re driving?

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