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Aging and driving: Keep your keys longer

Sue Daugherty • Jun 1, 2014 at 7:45 PM

Google is working to bring “self-driving cars” into our future. In fact, the subtitle of a cnet.com   article is “Don’t mock Google’s robocars. A ride in one shows that you, the driver, may soon be obsolete” When the self-driving car becomes available remains to be seen.

Self-driving cars are good news for some older drivers. As we age the thought of not having the freedom to drive is frightening. Driving is our means of socializing and accessing what we need to live. To have a lifestyle that allows you to pick up and go whenever/ wherever you want adds to one’s independence and quality of life. To have that ability taken away is traumatic for anyone, at any age — but especially in later life.

Before anyone questions whether someone should still be driving, one fact needs to be emphasized: It is not age — in and of itself — that makes older drivers a higher risk. It is the manifestation of physical changes that can occur in later life, such as reduced reaction time, poor flexibility/poor muscle strength, driving with impaired vision, impaired hearing and/or impaired cognition and judgment.

To keep your keys longer as you age, the best time to take action is before you have an accident. To help you take this pro-active step, Serving Our Seniors and AAA will offer a two-day AAA Mature Driving Course, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. June 4 and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 5 at the Serving Our Seniors office, 310 E. Boalt St., Sandusky.

This is a classroom course taught by a AAA-certified instructor. It is not designed to evaluate those taking the Mature Driving Course, nor is it a course designed to take drivers’ licenses away. The course teaches what you can do to be a better driver in later life. Topics include, but are not limited to: driving deficits and what is available to compensate for certain types of deficits; what are the risk factors of driving and risk management; communicating with other cars; adjusting speeds while being a safe driver; and reactions to road rage. Medications and driving are also covered.

For those who wish to take advantage of it, the instructor will assess how well each person’s car “fits” their body to support safe driving. Following the assessment, the instructor will give each person individualized tips on what can be done to make the car fit the individual better.

Those interested in taking the class must attend both sessions. The course is limited to 12 Erie County residents, age 60 and older. Cost is $10 per person to cover materials and is due at the time of registration. To register, come to Serving Our Seniors no later than 4 p.m. June 2.

Ask Serving Our Seniors

Q: Is there a Parkinson’s Support Group in our area?

A: Yes! The next meeting is 3 p.m. June 5. Dr. Timothy Herron, neurologist, will be the speaker. Speaker at 3 p.m. July 3 will be Angela Ridgel, Ph.D., assistant professor in exercise physiology at Kent State University. The group meets at Firelands Regional Medical Center, South Campus, 1912 Hayes Ave. For more information, call Bob or Sandy Bodi-Hultz at 419-609-9400 or 419-357-2895.

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