What Can I Do if I am Taking Medications?
Talk to your doctor honestly.
When your doctor prescribes a medicine for you, ask about side effects. How should you expect the medicine to affect your ability to drive? Remind your doctor of other medicines - both prescription and over-the-counter - and herbal supplements you are using, especially if you see more than one doctor. Talking honestly with your doctor also means telling the doctor if you are not using all or any of the prescribed medicines. Do not stop using your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Ask your doctor if you should drive - especially when you first take a medication.
Using a new medicine can cause you to react in a number of ways. It is recommended that you do not drive when you first start using a new medicine until you know how that drug affects you. You also need to be aware that some over-the-counter medicines and herbal supplements can make it difficult for you to drive safely.
Talk to your pharmacist.
Get to know your pharmacist. Ask the pharmacist to go over your medicines with you and to remind you of effects they may have on your ability to drive safely. Remind your pharmacist of other medicines and herbal supplements you are using. Pharmacists are available to answer questions wherever you get your medicine. Many people buy medicines by mail. Mail-order pharmacies have a toll-free number you can call and a pharmacist available to answer your questions. Be sure to request printed information about the side effects of any new medicine.
Learn to know how your body reacts to the medicine and supplements. Keep track of how you feel after you use the medicine. For example:
- Do you feel sleepy?
- Is your vision blurry?
- Do you feel weak and slow?
- When do these things happen?
Let your doctor and pharmacist know what is happening.
No matter what your reaction is to using a medicine - good or bad - tell your doctor and pharmacist. Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines are powerful - that's why they work. Each person is unique. Two people may respond differently to the same medicine. If you are experiencing side effects, the doctor needs to know that in order to adjust your medicine. Your doctor can help you find a medicine that works best for you.
What if I Have To Cut Back or Give Up Driving?
You can keep your independence even if you have to cut back or give up on your driving due to your need to use a medicine. It may take planning ahead on your part, but it will get you to the places you want to go and the people you want to see. Consider:
- rides with family and friends
- taxi cabs
- shuttle buses or vans
- public transportation
Also, senior centers, religious, and other local service groups often offer transportation services for older adults in the community.
Who Can I Call for Help With Transportation?
- Call the ElderCare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 and ask for the phone number of your local Office on Aging, or go to their website at www.eldercare.gov.
- Contact your regional transit authority to find out which bus or train to take.
- Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In Our Nation) can direct you to transportation resources near you. Call 1-800-659-6428.
Driving When You Are Taking Medications.
www.fda.gov/cder/consumerinfo/driving_taking_meds.htm, Food and Drug Administration (edited)