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Seniors' medications can impact their driving

Seniors (and Americans in general) are taking more medications than ever. Some two-thirds of seniors (those 65 and older) take at least five medications every day.

Prescription drugs can help people live longer by controlling things like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They can also relieve the aches and pains of arthritis and other conditions that limit people's activity as they age.

However, all of these medications -- both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription -- can impact people's ability to drive safely. A single medication -- even one as seemingly harmless as cough syrup, decongestant or antihistamine -- can affect a person's ability to drive. When these are taken by someone already taking pain pills, anti-depressants or tranquilizers, the results can be devastating.

Drugs can impact decision-making ability, reaction time, vision and perception -- all of which are already slowed in many older drivers. Adding even one new medication to a person's daily drug regimen can affect his or her ability to drive safely.

When anyone, regardless of age, is prescribed a new drug, it's essential to make sure that the prescribing physician is aware of everything else the patient is taking, including prescription drugs, OTC medications and supplements. Someone who is put on a new medication may want to refrain from driving for a few days while they see how it impacts them. If a medication can be taken any time, it may be best to take it at bedtime.

If you're involved in a crash that was caused by another motorist, part of the investigation should involve what medications that person was taking. A Louisville attorney can help you determine your legal options for seeking compensation to help cover your medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Source: AAA Senior Driving, "Driving & Medications," accessed Feb. 27, 2018

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