Help se­niors ex­tend their driv­ing years with these tips

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - HEALTH - JIM MILLER SAVVY SE­NIOR

Dear Savvy Se­nior: What tips or re­sources can you rec­om­mend to help el­derly se­niors ex­tend their driv­ing years? My dad, who’s 82, is still a de­cent driver, but I worry about his safety go­ing for­ward. — In­quir­ing Daugh­ter

Dear In­quir­ing: With more than 40 mil­lion li­censed driv­ers in the U.S. over the age of 65, there are lots of re­sources avail­able to­day to help keep older driv­ers safe and be­hind the wheel longer. Here are some sim­ple steps you can take to help keep your dad driv­ing safely.

Get his eyes checked: Be­cause about 90 per­cent of the in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to drive is re­ceived through our eyes, getting your dad’s eyes checked ev­ery year to be sure his vi­sion and eye­wear is up to par is an im­por­tant first step.

Check his meds: Does your dad take any medicine or com­bi­na­tion of medicines that make him sleepy, light-headed or loopy? If so, make a list of all his med­i­ca­tions (pre­scrip­tion and over-the-counter) and di­etary sup­ple­ments, and take it to his doc­tor or phar­ma­cist for a re­view. You can also get help with this on­line at Road­wis­erx.com.

Eval­u­ate his driv­ing: To stay on top of any po­ten­tial driv­ing is­sues, you should take a ride with your dad from time-to-time watch­ing for prob­lem ar­eas, such as: Does he drive at in­ap­pro­pri­ate speeds, tail­gate or drift be­tween lanes? Does he have dif­fi­culty see­ing, back­ing up or chang­ing lanes? Does he re­act slowly, get con­fused eas­ily or make poor driv­ing de­ci­sions? For more tips, see the Na­tional Care­givers Li­brary driv­ing as­sess­ment check­list at Se­nior­drivercheck­list.org.

If your dad needs a more thor­ough eval­u­a­tion, you can turn to a driver re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion spe­cial­ist who’s trained to eval­u­ate older driv­ers. This type of as­sess­ment typ­i­cally costs be­tween $100 and $200. To lo­cate a pro­fes­sional in your area, visit Aota.org/older-driver or ADED.NET.

Take a re­fresher course: AAA and AARP both have older driver re­fresher cour­ses that can help your dad tune up his driv­ing skills and learn how to ad­just for slower re­flexes, weaker vi­sion and other age-re­lated changes that af­fect driv­ing. Tak­ing a class may also earn him a dis­count on his auto in­sur­ance. To lo­cate a class, con­tact your lo­cal AAA (Aaa.com), or AARP (Aarp.org/drive, 888-227-7669). Most cour­ses cost around $15 to $30 and can be taken in the class­room or on­line.

An­other good re­source to look into is Carfit. This is a free as­sess­ment pro­gram that will help your dad ad­just his ve­hi­cle for a bet­ter fit, mak­ing it eas­ier and safer to drive. Carfit events are held around the coun­try in se­lect lo­ca­tions. See Car-fit.org to look for one near you.

Make some ad­just­ments: Rec­og­niz­ing your dad’s driv­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and mak­ing small changes on when and where he drives can go a long way in help­ing keep him safe and driv­ing longer. Ad­just­ments may in­clude not driv­ing af­ter dark or dur­ing rush hour traf­fic, avoid­ing ma­jor high­ways or other busy roads, and not driv­ing in poor weather con­di­tions.

You can find more tips at

AAA Se­nior Driv­ing at Se­nior­driv­ing.aaa.com.

And fi­nally, when it gets to the point that your dad’s driv­ing isn’t safe any­more and he needs to quit, The Hart­ford Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group and MIT Age­lab of­fer two help­ful re­sources. Go to The­hart­ford.com/life­time — click on “Pub­li­ca­tions” on the menu bar — and down­load or or­der the “At the Cross­roads” and/or “We Need to Talk” guides.

Send your se­nior ques­tions to: Savvy Se­nior, P.O. Box 5443, Nor­man, OK 73070, or visit Savvy­se­nior.org.

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