POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 113 (...Drugs and the Older Driver continued) Alcohol has a powerful impact on the body, physically and psychologically. With age, tolerance for alcohol decreases steadily, and the body processes it less efficiently. Combining alcohol with medications is risky whether or not you are behind the wheel. For instance, it can lead to falls. The only safe practice is to avoid alcohol completely if there is any chance that you will have to drive. Impaired driving, whether due to medications, alcohol or a combination, is not only dangerous and socially unacceptable. It is also a criminal offence. Tips for Older Drivers on Medications Driving is a complicated task, so don't let yourself be impaired by any kind of medication, including overthe-counter drugs and herbal or alternative remedies. • Take all medications according to the instructions. • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of prescribed medications on driving, and whether even a small amount of alcohol will increase the effect. • Make sure the combination of your medications does not impair your driving skills. If you have more than one doctor, make sure all of them know everything you are taking. • Never mix medications, share them with another person, or take them in combination with alcohol. • If the label says "Do not use while operating heavy machinery" let someone else drive. With some medications, you may not be able to drive at all. If in doubt, choose not to drive • Take a driver improvement course, such as the Canada Safety Council's 55 Alive. Aging brings changes in hearing, vision, flexibility and reaction time. You can learn to compensate for those changes. Some Medication Effects For The Older Driver Older drivers need to know how prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs can affect their driving ability. Here are some examples. © 2006 Canada Safety Council Medical Condition Type Of Medication Potential Effects Anxiety Sedatives Drowsiness, staggering, blurred vision Arthritis and rheumatism Analgesics (pain relievers) Drowsiness, inability to concentrate, ringing in ears Common cold Antihistamines, Antitussive (cough suppressants) Drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness Fatigue Stimulants Overexcitability, false sense of alertness, dizziness Heart Arrhythmia Antiarrhythmics Blurred vision, dizziness Hypertension Antihypertensives (blood pressure drugs) Drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness 1. Prescriptions for Health: Report of the Pharmaceutical Inquiry of Ontario, (The Lowy Commission Report), Toronto, 1990. 2. Benzodiazepine Use and Crash Risk in Older Patients by Samy Suissa, Ph.D. , of McGill University and Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital. JAMA . 1998 279: 113-115.