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AAA: Almost half of older drivers take seven or more medications

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Washington — Nearly half of older adults who are active drivers take seven or more medications, potentially putting the safety of everyone on the road at risk, according to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Using data from nearly 3,000 people between 65 and 79 years old who participated in the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study, researchers reviewed and documented the amount and types of medications being used.

Results showed that the median number of medications being used was seven. Further, 25 percent of the participants were taking 11 or more. Overall, 97 percent were taking some form of medication.

About 20 percent of participants were taking potentially inappropriate medications, which have limited therapeutic benefit and may pose excess harm. These drugs included first-generation antihistamines and benzodiazepines, which can cause blurred vision, confusion, fatigue or a lack of coordination. According to AAA, these drugs also can raise the risk of a crash by 300 percent. The most common medications were cardiovascular drugs (73 percent of participants) and central nervous system agents (70 percent).

“There’s a growing number of older drivers who use multiple medications and likely do not realize the impact these prescriptions may have on their driving,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a press release. “This new research shows that the more medications an older driver takes, the more likely they are to use an inappropriate medication that can potentially cause driving impairment.”

A record 42 million drivers 65 and older are on the roads, AAA reports. As baby boomers age, that number is expected to grow substantially.

AAA recommends older drivers make a list of all vitamins, supplements and medications they take and bring it to every medical appointment. Discuss the list with physicians to determine the impact medications may have on driving and whether possible alternative medications could be prescribed.

Drivers also can learn more about their medications by using AAA’s free online Roadwise RX tool.

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