QUESTION: I am constantly hearing that senior drivers are not safe drivers. Can you tell me what we older drivers should be looking at to determine if we have safety problems?
ANSWER: Getting older doesn’t necessarily make you an unsafe driver, however, there are changes in our bodies that could affect our driving skills over time.
Let’s look at the areas that change with age and determine what can be done to offset these changes. We will have to look changes to bodies, vision and hearing, changes to reaction time, overall health and medications.
First let’s look at our bodies. Our joints may stiffen and our muscles may weaken. We might notice we can’t turn our heads as far as when we were younger. If this occurs you might want to see your doctor. Also keep physically active, including exercise, to help improve both your strength and flexibility.
Vision is an area in which there are many changes. You should see your eye doctor for an annual checkup and new glasses, if necessary. It’s common to experience trouble seeing at night with the glare from oncoming headlights. Many seniors stop driving after dark because they feel they can’t see well enough for night driving.
Hearing is more important to driving than people realize. Hearing loss makes it harder to hear horns and sirens. Missing these noises may prevent you from moving over, getting out of the way or stopping quickly, and could result in an accident. If you notice this change you should have your hearing checked and, if required, get a hearing aid.
Reaction time is very important. You must be able to react to any condition that could occur and the decisions must be made quickly. Any of the items previously mentioned could affect your ability to react quickly. In addition, your attention span may be shorter or it might be harder to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Again, a discussion with your doctor would be appropriate.
Your health, in general, is most important as are the medications you may be taking. If you are taking medications read the labels and literature carefully and pay attention to warnings about the effect the medications can have. Listen to what your doctors say; they can help you decide whether it is safe for you to keep driving.
I suggest all seniors update their driving skills by taking a driving refresher course. Most senior centers offer AARP’s 55+ Driving Class. Every senior should take advantage of this very helpful offering.
QUESTION: A friend just suggested I look into senior day care for a family member. Any suggestions as to where I might start?
ANSWER: Senior Concerns has a seminar scheduled from 10-11 a.m. May 4 to address this question. The “Ahead of the Curve: and Expanding the Options for Seniors and Their Family Caregivers” seminar will explain what an adult day care program is and how it might benefit you or a family member.
Senior Concerns is at 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations, call 497-0189.
May 2 and 3: Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association will host diabetes classes from 1-2:30 p.m. May 2 at Livingston Memorial Community Room, 1996 Eastman Ave. in Ventura; from 10:30 a.m. to noon May 3 at the Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley; and from 2:30-4 p.m. May 3 at Camarillo Community Center, 1605 Burnley St. in Camarillo.
May 3, 1 p.m.: Robert Dempster will facilitate a “Who Are You and Where Did You Come From?” presentation on genealogy and how to find your ancestors at Thousand Oaks Council on Aging Meeting at the Civic Arts Plaza Boardroom, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks.
May 11, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: “Legal Information for Elders (LIFE)” seminar at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills. For reservations or information, call 818-597-7361.