While it’s no surprise that many older adults take a lot of different medications, many of those drugs can potentially increase their risk of getting into an automobile accident.
A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 50% of active senior drivers used seven or more medications. An analysis of 3,000 older drivers that also monitored the drugs they were taking found that about 20% of the meds should be avoided because of limited therapeutic benefit and/or potential to cause excess harm. These drugs are on a list known as the Beers Criteria.
These inappropriate drugs include benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam), as well as first-generation antihistamines. These medications can cause blurred vision and confusion and can impact coordination, increasing a driver’s crash risk by as much as 300%, according to AAA.
Some of the most commonly prescribed medications in this age group can affect driving ability. For example, 73% of respondents said they took a heart medication, and 70% said they took a central nervous system drug, such as a pain medication, stimulant or anti-anxiety drug.
The AAA Foundation said prior research found that less than 18% of senior drivers say they received a warning from their doctor that their medication could impact their driving ability.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.