Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Can You Ever Be Too Old to Drive?

Currently, there is no upper age limit for driving a car. All drivers have to renew their licence once they reach the age of 70 and every 3 years thereafter.

Those approaching their 70th birthday will be sent a renewal form by the DVLA. When completing the form you have to confirm any medical conditions you may have. Your eyesight must also meet the requirements for driving.

So why are we still driving into our twilight years?

Figures show that with the introduction of the NHS our life expectancy has increased. Living longer, having children later and working longer can all cause the continued use of a motor vehicle.

Technological features all make driving a car for the older person easier and safer. These include:

• cruise control
• power assisted steering
• self parking
• reverse warning or blind spot sensors
• rear cameras
• seats with lumbar support
• and adjustable steering wheels

It may surprise many that the estimate of over 4 million drivers are aged over 70. A little over 200 people aged over 100 are still driving too. With the growing population and longer lifespan, this is only going to increase.

For years there have been arguments for and against allowing the elderly to continue driving. The argument for the “Silver Surfers” is usually upheld by those past the ages of retirement. Most feel that they are still active, capable and don’t want to loose their independence. Those against the “Geriatric Trundlers” are the usually younger generations. Some feel that their elders have poorer eyesight and reactions/reflexes.

To class everyone over the age of 70 unfit to drive would be wrong. A senior citizen is no more likely than anyone else to cause an accident. A mature driver has greater experience and adopts a more careful and restrained driving style to the young in what has been termed as the “boy racer”.

Regardless of this, people latch on to stories of the aged mistaking accelerate for reverse or driving the wrong way down a motorway. With regular calls for the over 70’s to self-certify their own capability to drive.

The awkward moment; how to tell your aged relative or friend it’s time to give up driving

To tell someone that they are past it is a very hard thing to do. If you have any concerns about an elderly person’s driving address the matter sooner rather than later. A delay in doing so could be fatal.

Plan what you want to say and if you can talk it over with a close friend or relative first, do so. One who has already had experience of either side of this particular coin would be a good choice.

Take time to consider the drivers’ point of view. It isn’t only a reminder of a growing inability to take care of themselves the lack of independence, of mobility, the inconvenience of using Public Transport and the practical issues such as the weekly shop.

Giving up driving could also have an effect on where they live, whom they can see and what interests and leisure activities they can pursue. This won’t be a one chat and it’s agreed, car keys handed over and the car is up for sale the next day. Unfortunately, this might seem a simple health and safety issue but to them, it represents an end to the life as they know it.

Don’t go in all guns blazing, think of this as an opening discussion, a way to broach the subject so it can be dealt with. You may need to revisit the subject on a couple of occasions. Remember, unless they are suffering from dementia it’s not up to you to demand the person immediately stops driving. If you think that it is for the best, they are adults and as such you need to respect their rights.

But, if all else fails and you have real concerns over a person’s fitness to drive you can contact the D.V.L.A. They promise anonymity and will write to the driver requesting they see their doctor to complete a form. Unfortunately, if the doctor agrees that they meet the Medical Standard of Fitness and signs the form, the DVLA has no power to revoke the licence. It would be against the driver’s Human Rights, but if the worst happens, at least your conscience is clear!

Staying Healthy in the Workplace

Sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen 8 hours a day, 5 days per week can take a toll on your body and your health.

Although Health and Safety Regulations require employers to carry out individual workstation risk assessments (and where requested, pay for eye examinations for those working on Visual Display Unit’s); there is a lot that you can do for yourself to avoid the aches, pains and stresses of working in an office.

Follow our tips to stay healthy and in shape at work;

Back and neck pain:

The body needs regular motion and activity to function properly; it isn’t natural for our spine to be sat in a chair for hours at a time.

Help avoid muscle tightness, tenderness and pain in your back and neck by being aware of your posture, ensure that your chair provides sufficient lumbar support and you are seated right to the back of the chair.

Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and ensure your keyboard, mouse, phone and monitor are at an ideal height and distance. Avoid cradling the phone under your chin with your head to one side and shoulder raised. Instead, inquire about a headset to avoid neck strain.

Do not sit for long periods in a fixed posture, it is a good idea to stand up and move around every 30 minutes for 2 minutes.

Repetitive strain injury:

RSI is a general term as it refers to aches and pains in any part of the upper body caused by poor working posture or overuse. RSI commonly affects the arms, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, neck and shoulder.

Ensure you use a wrist rest and avoid keeping wrists in a fixed position; flex and shake out every so often.

Eye Strain:

Extensive research has found no evidence that working at a computer screen causes any permanent damage to eyes. However computer work is visually demanding and working for long spells can lead to tired eyes and headaches so take a break, attend to another task or get up and move around.

You should sit an arm’s distance from the screen. If you are unable to see the screen clearly at that distance consider changing the size of the font. Position the screen in order to avoid glare from overhead lights or sunlight through a window.

Lifting:

Don’t hurt your back by lifting or handling objects incorrectly. Always plan your lift and use two or more persons if necessary.

Always bend your knees, keeping your back straight as possible and avoid twisting.

Eating:

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration thus alleviating headaches, tiredness, and irritability.

Working at a computer is a sedentary occupation so, to avoid piling on the pounds, try to say no to the holiday treats and birthday cakes.

Eating healthily can greatly improve your concentration, so enjoy eggs, avocado, fish, blueberries, nuts and all whole grain products.

Try and stay clear of carbohydrates and large meals at lunchtime or you will suffer from the 3.00 lag.

Get out at lunchtime and go for a walk to get some exercise.

Germs:

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to take time off work each time we are ill but there are things that you can do to limit your exposure to germs whilst at work.

Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap, especially before eating food and after using the toilet.

Where you can, give those with colds and other illnesses a wide berth and unfortunately if that happens to be you make sure you dispose of your germ ridden tissues and wash your hands. Sanitise regularly and each time after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose to keep those pesky germs to yourself and avoid infecting the whole office.

Did you know that your desk harbours more germs that a toilet seat? Your keyboard, mouse and phone harbour thousands of germs. Be sure to clean them regularly to avoid unwanted illness.

Stress:

Unfortunately, with our hectic and busy lifestyles, we all suffer from stress to some degree. Did you know that stress not only causes headaches and fatigue but also has an impact on your immune system? Ongoing stress has also been known to lead to severe anxiety and depression.

Start the day by organising your workload. This will make a significant difference to your productivity and stress levels.

Know your limits and do your best within the limits of your job; you cannot undertake everything so delegate where you can.

If work is mounting up speak to your line manager or boss and ask for help before things spiral out of control.

Take regular breaks, go make a cuppa and take a couple of deep breaths and stretch out your back and shoulders.

Make sure you go out at lunch time and get some fresh air and exercise; lifting your mood and clearing your mind.

Schedule your holidays throughout the year and take them, it is a time to rest and recharge your batteries.

Leave work right there where it belongs; at work! Do not take it home with you!

For more information:

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/workplaceoverview.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/Backpainatwork.aspx
http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/index.htm
http://www.freeofficefinder.com/article/20-ultimate-tips-to-stay-healthy-at-the-office