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What Are Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

April 8, 2024

Many Americans die in facilities such as hospitals or nursing homes receiving care that is not consistent with their wishes. It’s important for older adults to plan ahead and let their caregivers, doctors, or family members know your end-of-life preferences in advance. For example, if an older person wants to die at home, receiving end-of-life care for pain and other symptoms, and makes this known to health care providers and family, it is less likely he or she will die in a hospital receiving unwanted treatments.

If the person is no longer able to make health care decisions for themselves, a caregiver or family member may have to make those decisions. Caregivers have several factors to consider when choosing end-of-life care, including the older person’s desire to pursue life-extending treatments, how long he or she has left to live, and the preferred setting for care.

WHAT IS PALLIATIVE CARE?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness, such as cancer or heart failure. Patients in palliative care may receive medical care for their symptoms, or palliative care, along with treatment intended to cure their serious illness. Palliative care is meant to enhance a person’s current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family.

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM PALLIATIVE CARE?

Palliative care is a resource for anyone living with a serious illness, such as heart failurechronic obstructive pulmonary diseasecancerdementiaParkinson’s disease, and many others. Palliative care can be helpful at any stage of illness and is best provided soon after a person is diagnosed.

In addition to improving quality of life and helping with symptoms, palliative care can help patients understand their choices for medical treatment. The organized services available through palliative care may be helpful to any older person having a lot of general discomfort and disability very late in life.

WHO MAKES UP THE PALLIATIVE CARE TEAM?

A palliative care team is made up of multiple different professionals that work with the patient, family, and the patient’s other doctors to provide medical, social, emotional, and practical support. The team is comprised of palliative care specialist doctors and nurses, and includes others such as social workers, nutritionists, and chaplains. A person’s team may vary based on their needs and level of care. To begin palliative care, a person’s health care provider may refer him or her to a palliative care specialist. If he or she doesn’t suggest it, the person can ask a health care provider for a referral.

WHERE IS PALLIATIVE CARE PROVIDED?

Palliative care can be provided in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient palliative care clinics and certain other specialized clinics, or at home. MedicareMedicaid, and insurance policies may cover palliative care. Veterans may be eligible for palliative care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Private health insurance might pay for some services. Health insurance providers can answer questions about what they will cover.

Visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization website to find palliative care near you.

In palliative care, a person does not have to give up treatment that might cure a serious illness. Palliative care can be provided along with curative treatment and may begin at the time of diagnosis. Over time, if the doctor or the palliative care team believes ongoing treatment is no longer helping, there are two possibilities. Palliative care could transition to hospice care if the doctor believes the person is likely to die within six months (see What does the hospice six-month requirement mean?). Or, the palliative care team could continue to help with increasing emphasis on comfort care.

WHAT IS HOSPICE CARE?

Increasingly, people are choosing hospice care at the end of life. Hospice care focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life.

At some point, it may not be possible to cure a serious illness, or a patient may choose not to undergo certain treatments. Hospice is designed for this situation. The patient beginning hospice care understands that his or her illness is not responding to medical attempts to cure it or to slow the disease’s progress.

Like palliative care, hospice provides comprehensive comfort care as well as support for the family, but, in hospice, attempts to cure the person’s illness are stopped. Hospice is provided for a person with a terminal illness whose doctor believes he or she has six months or less to live if the illness runs its natural course.

It’s important for a patient to discuss hospice care options with their doctor. Sometimes, people don’t begin hospice care soon enough to take full advantage of the help it offers. Perhaps they wait too long to begin hospice and they are too close to death. Or, some people are not eligible for hospice care soon enough to receive its full benefit. Starting hospice early may be able to provide months of meaningful care and quality time with loved ones.

WHERE IS HOSPICE CARE PROVIDED AND WHO PROVIDES IT?

Hospice is an approach to care, so it is not tied to a specific place. It can be offered in two types of settings — at home or in a facility such as a nursing home, hospital, or even in a separate hospice center.

Read more about where end-of-life care can be provided.

Hospice care brings together a team of people with special skills — among them nurses, doctors, social workers, spiritual advisors, and trained volunteers. Everyone works together with the person who is dying, the caregiver, and/or the family to provide the medical, emotional, and spiritual support needed.

A member of the hospice team visits regularly, and someone is usually always available by phone — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hospice may be covered by Medicare and other insurance companies. Check to see if insurance will cover the person’s particular situation.

It is important to remember that stopping treatment aimed at curing an illness does not mean discontinuing all treatment. A good example is an older person with cancer. If the doctor determines that the cancer is not responding to chemotherapy and the patient chooses to enter into hospice care, then the chemotherapy will stop. Other medical care may continue as long as it is helpful. For example, if the person has high blood pressure, he or she will still get medicine for that.

Although hospice provides a lot of support, the day-to-day care of a person dying at home is provided by family and friends. The hospice team coaches family members on how to care for the dying person and even provides respite care when caregivers need a break. Respite care can be for as short as a few hours or for as long as several weeks.

To learn more, please visit https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hospice-and-palliative-care/what-are-palliative-care-and-hospice-care.

How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking

April 3, 2024

The brain controls many aspects of thinking — remembering, planning and organizing, making decisions, and much more. These cognitive abilities affect how well we do everyday tasks and whether we can live independently.

Some changes in thinking are common as people get older. For example, older adults may:

  • Be slower to find words and recall names
  • Have problems with multitasking
  • Experience mild decreases in the ability to pay attention

Aging may also bring positive cognitive changes. For example, many studies have shown that older adults have larger vocabularies and greater knowledge of the depth of meaning of words than younger adults. Older adults may also have learned from their many years of accumulated knowledge and experiences. Whether and how older adults apply this knowledge, and how the brain changes as a result, is an area that researchers are actively exploring.

Despite the changes in cognition that may come with age, older adults can still do many of the things they have enjoyed their whole lives. Research shows that older adults can still:

  • Learn new skills
  • Form new memories
  • Improve vocabulary and language skills

How the brain changes as people age

As a person gets older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain.

  • Certain parts of the brain shrink, including those important to learning and other complex mental activities.
  • In certain brain regions, communication between neurons may be less effective.
  • Blood flow in the brain may decrease.
  • Inflammation, which occurs when the body responds to an injury or disease, may increase.

These changes in the brain can affect mental function, even in healthy older people. For example, some older adults may find that they don’t do as well as younger individuals on complex memory or learning tests. However, if given enough time to learn a new task, they usually perform just as well. Needing that extra time is normal as people age. There is growing evidence that the brain maintains the ability to change and adapt so that people can manage new challenges and tasks as they age.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about changes in your thinking and memory. They can help you determine whether those changes are normal or whether it could be something else.

The brain-body connection

There is growing scientific evidence of the brain-body connection. Not only can changes in our brain affect our thinking, but also changes in our physical health may affect our brains.

For example, an NIA-funded study of almost 3,000 older adults showed that healthy lifestyle factors — physical activity, not smoking, not drinking heavily, following the Mediterranean-style diet, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities — can have important benefits. People who engaged in four or five of these behaviors had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those who only followed one or none. People who followed two or three of the activities had a 37% lower risk.

In another study, older adults with higher levels of physical activity showed slower rates of cognitive decline than peers who were less active. Another example of how physical health can affect brain health has to do with the heart. Observational studies have found that high blood pressure in middle age, along with other cerebrovascular risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking, increase the risk of developing dementia.

Results from observational studies such as these can’t prove cause and effect, but they point to how a combination of modifiable behaviors may affect the brain as people age and identify promising avenues to be tested further.

To learn more, please visit https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/brain-health/how-aging-brain-affects-thinking

Emergency Readiness for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

March 25, 2024

In recent years, the United States has experienced a number of significant natural disasters. Several of these events happened with little or no warning. One key lesson that we have learned from these unfortunate circumstances is to “be prepared,” a message that is especially important for older Americans and people with disabilities. September is officially designated National Preparedness Month, but preparedness is something we should be thinking about all year long.

Unfortunately, natural disasters can disproportionately impact older people and those with disabilities. These populations are frequently less able to withstand periods of time without food, water, medication, and rest—and they may have mobility or communications limitations that impact their ability to respond. Half of the people who died during and after Hurricane Katrina were over the age of 75. People with disabilities who rely on service providers for meals, personal care, and medical assistance often go without critical support systems during a crisis. As we saw during Hurricane Sandy, the loss of electricity to power medical devices, such as ventilators, or assistive technology, can be life-threatening.

That is why it is critical that older adults and people with disabilities plan for emergencies before they happen. Here are three important steps to consider in preparing for a natural disaster:

  • Involve your community. When putting together a plan, individuals with disabilities and older adults should talk with their neighbors, family members, caregivers, and community members about emergency preparedness. Planning should be informed by individuals’ needs and preferences and should focus on creating a support team that can assist with evacuation, finding appropriate shelter, and meeting basic needs during a crisis. Planning should also take into account those situations when local services and supports are not available, and an individual needs to relocate out of the community. Consider including out-of-town relatives or friends in disaster preparedness plans.
  • Pack an emergency medical kit. People with disabilities and older people with chronic health conditions should pack an emergency kit. It should contain food, water, medication, copies of medical records, instructions for medical devices, and, if necessary, things like extra wheelchair batteries and oxygen tanks.
  • Make a plan for pets and service animals. Millions of people have pets and service animals that they love dearly. Owners should create evacuation and emergency response plans that include the needs of their animals. This includes packing an emergency kit for animals with food, water, and medication Pet owners should learn which shelters in their communities accept non-service animals and enlist the support of friends and neighbors to help with pet care if local shelters are not an option.

Every state is unique in terms of the local risks and types of natural disasters that can take place. But no matter where you are, it is important to take time to ensure that older Americans and people with disabilities engage in emergency planning so they are prepared to weather the storms that come.

For more information and links to resources about emergency preparedness for older adults and people with disabilities, please visit ACL’s emergency preparedness webpage.

Risk and Protective Factors for Older Adults

March 19, 2024

A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of becoming a perpetrator of elder abuse. They are contributing factors and may or may not be direct causes. Understanding these factors can help identify various opportunities for prevention.

Watch Moving Forward to learn more about how increasing what protects people from violence and reducing what puts people at risk for it benefits everyone.

RISK FACTORS FOR PERPETRATION

Individual Risk Factors

  • Current diagnosis of mental illness
  • Current or past abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Current physical health problem
  • Past experience of disruptive behavior
  • Past experience of traumatic events
  • High levels of stress
  • Poor or inadequate preparation or training for caregiving responsibilities
  • Inadequate coping skills
  • Exposure to or witnessing abuse as a child
  • Social isolation

Relationship Risk Factors

  • High financial and emotional dependence upon a vulnerable elder
  • Past family conflict
  • Inability to establish or maintain positive prosocial relationships
  • Lack of social support

Societal Risk Factors

There are specific characteristics of institutional settings such as nursing homes and residential facilities, that can increase the risk for perpetration including:

  • Staffing problems and lack of qualified staff
  • Staff burnout and stressful working conditions

PROTECTIVE FACTORS FOR ELDER ABUSE

Protective factors reduce risk for perpetrating or experiencing abuse and neglect. Protective factors have not been studied as extensively as risk factors. However, identifying and understanding protective factors are equally as important as researching risk factors.

PROTECTIVE FACTORS FOR VICTIMIZATION

Individual Protective Factors

  • Emotional intelligence

Relationship Protective Factors

  • Having social support

Community Protective Factors

  • Sense of community, meaning, residents feel connected to each other and are involved in the community

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/elderabuse/riskprotectivefactors.html

Productive Aging and Work

March 11, 2024

Aging is a process experienced by all workers throughout their life. Although there is no consensus on the age at which workers are considered “older workers,” the aging workforce phenomenon is real. For many older adults, work is increasingly an important avenue to economic security, enhanced social interaction, and improved quality of life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 nearly one in four American workers was age 55 or older. Moreover, labor force participation rates for workers aged 55 and older are projected to increase through 2030, while participation rates for those in younger and middle-aged groups are projected to remain relatively level or decline. These demographic shifts have made the issue of supporting and protecting the health and safety of workers, especially those of advanced age, much more pressing. Vital to any workplace is the safety, health, and well-being of all workers, from their first day on the job to their last.

National Center for Productive Aging and Work

The National Center for Productive Aging and Work (NCPAW) advances lifelong well-being for workers of all ages and supports productive aging across the working life. The Center works on important issues such as how organizations are addressing the needs of an aging workforce and identifying interventions and strategies to support both workers of all age groups and organizations that employ them. The Center is hosted by the NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health®

Benefits of an Aging Workforce and Age-Friendly Work Practices

Employers increasingly see the value that older workers bring to the job. Older workers have greater institutional knowledge and usually more applicable experience. They report lower levels of stress on the job, and in general, they get along better with their coworkers. Finally, they tend to be more cautious on the job and more likely to follow safety rules and regulations.

A well-designed, employee-centered approach that focuses on multiple aspects of the workplace, including the nature of work, benefits all workers regardless of age. Many workplace accommodations are easy to make and are inexpensive. Modern orthotics, appropriate flooring and seating, optimal lighting, and new information technology hardware and software can smooth the way to continued work for older individuals. A new emphasis on job sharing, flexible work schedules, and working from home can support added years in the job market for many.

Simple Strategies for an Age-Friendly Workplace

These solutions can have large benefits if implemented properly with worker input and support throughout all levels of management. Moreover, these strategies can benefit workers regardless of age.

  • Prioritize workplace flexibility. Workers prefer jobs that provide more flexibility over those that offer more vacation days. To the extent possible, give workers a say in their schedule, work conditions, work organization, work location, and work tasks.
  • Match tasks to abilities. Use self-paced work, self-directed rest breaks, and less repetitive tasks.
  • Avoid prolonged, sedentary work. Prolonged, sedentary work is bad for workers at every age. Consider sit/stand workstations and walking workstations for workers who traditionally sit all day. Design work to include a variety of tasks and skills. Provide onsite physical activity opportunities or connections to low-cost community options.
  • Manage hazards. Including noise, slip/trip hazards, and physical hazards – conditions that may result in harm to workers of all ages, but can be more challenging to an aging workforce.
  • Provide and design ergonomic-friendly work environments. Examples include adjustable workstations, minimize vibration and noise from tools, floor surfaces that reduce the impact on joints, adjustable seating, good lighting, and screens and surfaces with less glare.
  • Utilize teams and teamwork strategies for identifying and solving problems. Workers closest to the problem are often best equipped to find the fix.
  • Provide health promotion and lifestyle interventions including encouraging physical activity and healthy meal options, tobacco cessation assistance, screenings for health risk factors, strategies for reducing health risks, health coaching, and onsite medical care. Accommodate medical self-care in the workplace and time away for health visits.
  • Invest in training and building worker skills and competencies at all age levels. Help older employees learn and adapt to new technologies, often a concern for employers and older workers. Provide workers the opportunities to practice and apply new skills as they are learning.
  • Proactively manage reasonable accommodations and the return-to-work process after illness or injury absences.
  • Provide age inclusive workforce management skills training for supervisors. Include a focus on the varying needs of workers at different life stages, and effective ways to manage a multi-generational workplace.

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/productiveaging/.

Learn About Alzheimer’s Disease & 8 ways to Lower Your Risk of Getting It

March 4, 2024

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. It begins with mild memory loss and can lead to losing the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. If not treated, it can affect a person’s ability to go about their normal routines.

  • Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. This memory loss is not a normal part of aging.

Scientists don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s. However, like other chronic conditions, it is probably a result of several things.

How many people have Alzheimer’s disease?

Nearly 6.7 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease.1  By 2060, that number is expected to grow to 13.9 million.2 You may have a friend or loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia.

  • Most people living with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 or older. People younger than 65 can have Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s uncommon.

Is there a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease?

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease at this time, but there are things you can do to help lower your risk.

  1. Controlling high blood pressure
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight
  3. Quitting smoking
  4. Being physically active
  5. Eating healthy meals
  6. Getting enough sleep
  7. Avoiding alcohol or drinking alcohol in moderation
  8. Managing diabetes

You don’t have to make these changes all at once. For example, getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep at night, getting an annual physical exam, or simply taking a walk every day may make a big difference in brain health.3

If you notice that your memory is changing or getting worse, you should talk to a medical professional.

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/what-is-alzheimers-disease/index.html.

The Mental Health of People with Disabilities

February 26, 2024

Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities.  Call your doctor if your mental health gets in the way of your daily activities for at least 14 days in a month.

December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In the United States, up to 1 in 4 adults have a disability. Many people will experience a disability at some point during their lives. Disabilities limit how a child or adult functions. These limitations may include difficulty walking or climbing stairs; hearing; seeing; or concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see.

Many Adults with Disabilities Report Frequent Mental Distress

A CDC study found that adults with disabilities report experiencing more mental distress than those without disabilities.1 In 2018, an estimated 17.4 million (32.9%) adults with disabilities experienced frequent mental distress, defined as 14 or more reported mentally unhealthy days in the past 30 days. Frequent mental distress is associated with poor health behaviors, increased use of health services, mental disorders, chronic disease, and limitations in daily life.1

During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines, and diminished health services greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities.2

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. Free and confidential resources can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

It’s Okay Not to Feel Okay

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to stressful situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can depend on your background, your support systems (e.g., family or friends), your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors.

People with disabilities or developmental delays may respond strongly to the stress of a crisis, particularly if they are also at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses (for example, older people and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions).

How Are You Feeling?

We are often asked this question, and many of us say we’re “fine.” But this has been a difficult time lately, and emotions can be complex. You may be feeling sad, worried, or stressed.

It helps to stay positive and remind yourself of your strengths. Visit How Right Now for inspiration and resources to find what helps.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health provider before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
  • Know where and how to get mental health treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.  During times of increased social distancing, people can still maintain social connections and care for their mental health. Phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel socially connected, less lonely, or isolated.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
  • Improving the Mental Health of People with Disabilities
  • CDC provides funding for two National Centers on Disability that focus on improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities.
  • Special Olympics’ Inclusive Health programming focuses on improving the physical and social-emotional well-being of people with intellectual disabilities by increasing inclusion in health care, wellness, and health systems for Special Olympics athletes and others with intellectual disabilities.
  • “I learned relaxation techniques and now always try these when I find myself overwhelmed. I would recommend these strategies to others, too. A strong mind is an important part to a happy body,” shares Kayte Barton, a Special Olympics athlete from Minnesota.  Barton was a part of the Special Olympics committee to help develop emotional health programming for Special Olympics athletes across the world in its flagship Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program.
  • Special Olympics’ Strong Mindfulness program offers free, 1-hour mindfulness sessions for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Participants learn deep breathing techniques, body awareness and progressive muscle relaxation, mindful movement, and guided meditation. They also receive a Strong Minds Activity Guide designed to help them develop their coping skills in everyday life.
  • The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) seeks to help people with disabilities and other chronic health conditions achieve health benefits through increased participation in all types of physical and social activities. NCHPAD’s M.E.N.T.O.R program, which stands for Mindfulness, Exercise and Nutrition to Optimize Recovery, takes a holistic approach to restoring, improving, and protecting health. The program divides health into three domains: physical, mental, and emotional.  Through this program, people who have acquired a new disability (e.g., spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury), a new diagnosis (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease), or have a congenital condition (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida) learn the many ways life can be enhanced through health and wellness activities.

Disability and Mental Health Resources

As CDC honors International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we ask that you join us in being a part of the global movement to change attitudes toward, and promote the inclusion of, people with disabilities.

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/features/mental-health-for-all.html

Success Story: Circunsicion Olave Titto

February 26, 2024

Seneca Place is excited to shine the spotlight on resident Circunsicion Olave Titto’s Success Story!

Circunsicion Olave Titto arrived at Seneca Place seeking assistance with walking and completing tasks independently due to injuries. With the support of the occupational and physical therapy teams, she started the process to regain mobility! After dedicated efforts and consistent therapy sessions, Ms. Olave Titto achieved her goal of walking again within a couple of weeks. She expressed her gratitude to her therapists and the entire team for their support and guidance during her recovery journey. “My therapists were very attentive to me and my need to walk. They took me out to walk everyday. I can now walk by myself.” Congratulations to Circunsicion and her Care Team on their success!

Safer Food Choices for Adults 65 and Over

February 22, 2024

Help Prevent Food Poisoning

Older adults have a higher risk of getting sick from food poisoning and having a more serious illness.

To prevent food poisoning, some foods are safer choices than others. That’s because some foods—such as undercooked meat and eggs, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized milk — are more often associated with foodborne illnesses. Use the table below as a guide to safer food choices.

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/adults-65-over.html

Older Adult Drivers

February 12, 2024

In 2020, there were almost 48 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States. This is a 68% increase since 2000.

Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent. But the risk of being injured or killed in a traffic crash increases as people age. Thankfully, older adults can take steps to stay safer on the roads.

Thousands of older adults are injured or killed in the United States every year in traffic crashes.

In 2020, about 7,500 older adults were killed in traffic crashes, and almost 200,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries. This means that each day, 20 older adults are killed and almost 540 are injured in crashes.

Age, gender, and age-related changes are major risk factors
  • Drivers aged 70+ have higher crash death rates per 1,000 crashes than middle-aged drivers (aged 35-54). Higher crash death rates among this age group are primarily due to increased vulnerability to injury in a crash.
  • Across all age groups, males have substantially higher crash death rates than females.
  • Age-related changes in vision, physical functioning, and the ability to reason and remember, as well as some diseases and medications, might affect some older adults’ driving abilities.
Key steps to staying safe on the roads
  • The good news is that older adults are more likely to have safer driving behaviors than other age groups.
  • Taking these key steps can help adults of all ages, including older adults, stay safe on the road:
  • Always wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger
    Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes.
  • Drive when conditions are safest
    Drive during daylight and in good weather. Conditions such as poor weather and driving at night increase the likelihood of crash injuries and deaths.
  • Don’t drink and drive
    Drinking and driving increases the risk of being in a crash because alcohol reduces coordination and impairs judgment.
Additional steps to stay safe on the road
  • Use CDC’s MyMobility Plan, a plan to stay mobile and independent as you age.
  • Follow a regular activity program to increase strength and flexibility.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to reduce side effects and interactions. Read the Are Your Medicines Increasing Your Risk of a Fall or a Car Crash fact sheet to learn more.
  • Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year. Wear glasses and corrective lenses as required.
  • Plan your route before you drive.
  • Find the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left-turn signals, and easy parking.
  • Leave a large following distance between your car and the car in front of you.
  • Avoid distractions in your car, such as listening to a loud radio, talking or texting on your phone, and eating.
  • Consider potential alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend, using ride share services, or taking public transit.

To learn more, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/older_adult_drivers/index.html