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Senior Health

Anxiety about driving

06/15/2009

Question:


My relative is 80 years old and has been very independent. Her right foot recently slipped off the brake pedal when she was driving and she is now experiencing anxiety attacks when she drives/approaches a traffic light or stop sign. Her right knee was replaced in 2005. Her geriatric psychologist just stopped practicing and moved away. where should she start to get help?

Answer:

Anxiety is a major problem for some older people and an event such as you describe can trigger a panic attack. Your relative may benefit from psychological support to manage anxiety. Suggest contact with your local Area Agency on Aging, Council on Aging, etc. for a recommendation to mental health practitioner working with older adults. In addition, there are driving evaluation and education sites that assist older adults who are experiencing challenges with driving. Suggest contacting your  state Department of Motor Vehicles for assistance in locating this service for older adults in your area. Hope this information is helpful.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati