WHEN IT’S TIME TO
GIVE UP THE KEYS
I DON’T know if there’s a driving gene,
but if there is, I have it. I got it from my
dad. He was king of the road, transporting his family all over the country in his
huge cars. But what should families do
when Dad must give up his keys?
Keep Dad and/or Mom active. Even
moderate exercise several times a
week can help their mental and
Ride along. Get in the
vehicle regularly with your
aging senior and observe
him or her. If you feel even
slightly apprehensive, it suggests you’re approaching a decision point.
Engage your whole family. If a parent’s driving is becoming problematic,
don’t attempt to deal with it alone. Try a
gentle discussion involving as many adult
children as possible.
Don’t expect help from the
Department of Motor Vehicles. If your
parent should no longer be driving, know
this: Most states don’t administer vision
or mobility tests for seniors. They issue
licenses even to drivers in their 90s.
Seek professional help. Physicians
and social-work professionals who
specialize in geriatrics can be a great
source of advice.
Don’t presume the worst.
Sometimes confronting an aging driver
can wreck family relationships. But that
isn’t always the case. In fact, some
seniors even appreciate the concerns
expressed by their loved ones, especially
when accompanied by sensible suggestions for maintaining independence and
quality of life.—Jessie Thorpe, co-editor of
MAKE SIMPLE CHANGES
AGING PRESENTS certain uncomfortable,
and often unavoidable, realities for drivers.
You can counter them by making some
simple but vital adjustments.
Slow down! The most effective
automotive safety device is your
own right foot. Treat speed limits as maximums.
Clear the way. Never, ever,
move your vehicle into a space blindly.
This is especially critical when pulling
onto a roadway. Look in both directions,
slightly apprehensive, it sug-
and keep looking until you’ve completed
Avoid distractions. Turn off your cell-phone. Preset your radio station or load
your CDs beforehand. Avoid making
changes while rolling.
Keep in practice. As you
age, exercising your skills
becomes imperative. Highway
safety experts recommend driving 60
miles a week to maintain competence.
Be religious about regular service. The
older you get, the less pleasant it is to be
stuck by the side of the road.
Assume the position. Adjust the seat
height to sit higher and see farther, giving
you a critical edge in reaction time. And
stay at least ;; inches away from the steering wheel. Airbags can kill.
Be careful with GPS. Those artificial
voices can be jarring. Better to know where
you’re going in the first place. Remember,
you grew up with road maps.
Consider a different car. A crossover
or a small SUV is easier to get in and out of
and can give you a better perch on the
road. Automatic braking is great; don’t
buy another vehicle without it.
Maintain your abilities
From Lidia Wasowicz Pringle, former
senior correspondent for United Press
“The American psyche is based on
freedom of movement,” a transportation
expert once told me. It’s true, but I would
add something else: Our greatness also
emerged from our ability as individuals to
move freely. Here are my tips.
It’s not age; it’s ability and health. Highway safety experts agree: How well you can
perform behind the wheel is far more
important than how old you are. Do everything you can to preserve your good health.
Go back to school. AAA and other organizations offer reasonably priced driving-safety courses for seniors.
Beware of left turns. As your ability to
judge speed and distance declines, turn-
ing left past oncoming
traffic becomes a great
potential hazard. Exercise
extra caution here.
Don’t forget the basics. Gas “go”; brake
“stop.” It’s the most basic driving principle. But as you age, you might begin to confuse the two. This can be the surest sign it’s
time to give up the keys.
Heed this doctor’s advice
From Dr. Robert A. Comunale, semiretired family-practice physician.
Sure, you may not be what you used to
be, but by now you’ve amassed something
just as valuable: life experience and maybe
a little wisdom. You know better than anyone when and where you should drive.
Get your peepers checked frequently.
Vision begins to deteriorate as early as ;;,
so it’s imperative to have regular eye exams.
Wear corrective lenses when needed.
Check your meds for side effects. Read
the labels and heed the warnings.
Don’t neglect your hearing. Next to
vision, it’s the most important sense drivers need.
Stop the marathons. Travel as far as
you wish, but follo w two unbreakable rules:
Every two hours behind the wheel (an hour
and a half is even better if you’re ;; or
older), get out, stretch, have a potty break.
And don’t drive more than a total of eight
hours a day.
Make sure you’re still ticklish. It’s no
joke. Loss of sensitivity in the soles of the
feet can contribute to misjudgments using
the gas and brake pedals. C
Costco members can get their hearing and
vision checked at Costco locations, buy car
insurance through Costco Services and ;nd
a variety of products to help keep them and
their vehicles moving along.