Senior Driving – How To Keep Your License

handsome senior man driving a car

Senior citizens in America often have a stereotypical stigma for poor driving capabilities. However, getting older does not automatically impair your driving skills. The changes brought on by age in senior’s bodies may affect physical and cognitive traits used for driving, but there are ways that seniors can consciously improve their driving skills to keep their license for longer in spite of these changes by being careful.

 

How exactly does age affect senior driving abilities?

 

  • Alzheimer and dementia – As senior Americans enter into their later years, they often become more susceptible to cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, diseases that affect memory, thinking, and problem solving skills.
  • Eyesight and hearing impairment – Hindrances to vision and hearing brought on by aging can affect senior driving for reading signs and environmental cues. Senior eyesight may become too sensitive to the sun through the windshield or headlights at night as well. Seniors can check their eyesight and hearing at a doctors office to be deemed safe for the road.
  • Arthritis disease – diseases affecting the hands and dexterity can be harmful to senior driving abilities when handling the wheel.
  • Bad joints – Additionally, the joints used in turning the wheel, putting on a seatbelt, and operating a car’s brakes and accelerator can become an issue for senior driving.
  • Reflexes – Certain cognitive impairments can affect the reflexes necessary for making fast reactions to traffic occurrences or responding to traffic signals and signs, or abrupt stops. Aging may result in a shorter attention span and reduced multi-tasking skills needed for navigating a dynamic road.
  • Physical disabilities and pain – Sometimes injuries and health development result in states of pain and discomfort that can become distracting and hazardous to a senior’s ability to focus on the road.
  • Over-cautiousness – Seniors are often aware of their fragility and cognitive problems, but do not want to risk losing their license by making mistake. This results in some seniors being overly cautious and driving dangerously slow (to avoid speeding or accidents) but may put others at risk who are trying to maneuver around them.

 

Seniors viewing loosing their drivers license as equivalent to loosing their freedom in the 21st century world. To make sure that you are still capable of road traveling, a senior may submit themselves for a driver refresher course. Costs for driver refresher courses are often covered by the AARP for senior members.

 

 

Smart Driving Tips to Help You Keep Your License

 

  • Only drive in familiar areas, plan your route ahead of time for new destinations to reduce anxiety and possible confusion
  • Try to make trips to places that are close and easy to reach.
  • Allow for extra time when making a trip or outing, so you are not rushed or prone to make any irrational driving decisions
  • Do not drive when you feel stress or exhaustion. Arrange for a carpool or get a ride when you feel these symptoms.
  • Be aware of the side effects of medicines, and whether or not it is advisable to operate machinery or drive after a dose.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving; it is not only critical for safety, but the law of the land.
  • For seniors who use cell phones or smartphones, always be sure not to add the extra hazardous distraction of talking on the phone or texting while driving.
  • Regularly check your mirrors while driving to maintain a sense of your surroundings.
  • For the safety and comfort of others, try not to drive to close behind anyone driving in front of your vehicle.

 

When is it time to give up driving?

 

Pay attention for the exterior signs and indications of when it may be at last time to consider giving up driving for the sake of your health and safety. If you are experiencing:

  • Large amounts of other drivers honking at you frequently
  • Have you been having many close-calls or accidents lately
  • Are you getting lost often while on the road
  • Have members of your family expressed concern

 

Other Transportations Options

 

Retiring your license is not the end of the world. A senior can find many alternative methods for getting around when driving is not longer an option. You may get a ride from members of your family when living at home. Public transportation like buses and cabs are available in city areas. Many senior living facilities offer transportation for senior residents as well.

 

 

doggie car

Activities of Daily Living

As our parents age, we often try not the think about the worst case scenarios. However, the truth is, your parents will age and come to a state where they depend on us to handle their financial, legal, and emotional matters. It’s important for you to know their wishes and how to obtain important documentation. Here are seven questions to ask your aging parents before it’s too late, and things become complicated.

1. Do You Have Someone to Make Health Care Decisions for You?

In most cases, aging parents are expected to make health care decisions for their spouse. However, decisions can be prolonged or go in the opposite direction of what a person wanted. This is because family and close friends are too emotionally attached, thinking of their own wants and needs. Your aging parents can select a health care proxy who will handle all their health care decisions. Before they designate one, they need to be sure this person can carry out their wishes.

2. Do You Have an Idea of the Type of Medical Care You Want?

Having a health care decision maker only works well if they know your medical care wishes. That’s why it’s important to discuss with the decision maker exactly what they want, especially when faced with the end of life decisions. Comfort levels, pain management, life support decisions, these are all important as your parent does have their own views.

3. Do You Have a Will or Living Trust?

The fact that both of your parents are alive and well does not mean they shouldn’t have a will or living trust established. Typically, when a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse automatically receives the assets. However, what should happen if they become incapacitated or pass away soon thereafter? It’s important that both of your aging parents establish a will or living trust so their possessions can be passed on as they wish.

4. Do You Have Your Long-Term Care Plan in Place?

Some parents believe they will stay at home until they pass on. They don’t think about how they will be able to remain at home and be comfortable. There are costs involved, such as an actual caretaker, medications, and supportive equipment. They may, in fact, not be able to remain at home and need to go to a supportive facility such as an assisted living or nursing home.

The costs of these communities are rising so having a long-term care plan in place, especially insurance, is going to be helpful. If they do have long-term care insurance in place, set up an appointment for you, your parents, and the insurance agent to discuss the policy in full. You need to make sure you understand it and the coverage options.

5. Where Can I Find Your Important Documents and Are They Current?

If you are not familiar with where your parents keep their important documents, it’s time to find out. If something were to happen to them, you don’t want to waste time searching their home for insurance documents, medical paperwork, financial statements, or proxy designation forms. Any documents kept in a safe deposit box should have a designated family member assigned a key. Ensure these documents are up to date as well.

6. Do You Have All Your Doctor’s Listed in One Location?

Should an emergency happen, it could be critical for attending physicians to talk to your parent’s primary care physician (PCP). There could have been a recent appointment that uncovered important information about your parent’s medical condition. You should know who their physicians are and how to contact them.

7. What Are Your Current Medications?

As your parents age, you can expect that sooner or later there may be medication management problems. They may get confused regarding what prescriptions they take and why. They may mix up their dosage. Having a clear understanding of their prescriptions could save your parent’s life should they become confused.

If your parents are comfortable and open with you, go over these 35 questions that AARP has compiled together. Sometimes the best way to be there for your aging parents is to ask them the hard and uncomfortable questions.

Discover 10 things you should never say to your aging parents. http://bit.ly/1DsAmGV

Reverse Mortgages: Pros and Cons

Reverse mortgage Given the inconsistent information presented by the media, it’s understandable why many seniors have difficulty deciding whether or not a reverse mortgage is a good idea.  Since 1960, when reverse mortgages, first hit the scene, the general public has been hesitant to believe the hype.  Despite their somewhat shady reputation, reverse mortgages continue to gain popularity.  However, before you make a final decision, it’s always good to consider the pros and cons.

Pros of Reverse Mortgages

Obviously reverse mortgages would not be climbing the popularity charts if they didn’t have any benefits.  The advantages of a reverse mortgage include:

  • It allows you to stay in your home with no monthly mortgage payment
  • No repayment required as long as you live in the home and abide by all loan terms
  • Allows you to use your equity, however you choose: pay off debts, make home repairs, take a vacation, etc.
  • Features interest rates comparable (or lower) to traditional and home equity mortgage rates
  • Has no prepayment penalty
  • Does not subject you to additional income tax
  • Enables you to supplement a fixed income for covering daily expenses
  • Protects you from excessive “junk” fees due to heavy government regulations
  • Allows you to finance your up-front fees so they are not paid out-of-pocket

Cons of Reverse Mortgages

As with anything that affects your bank account, it’s always wise to take a look at the disadvantages of the issue as well.  Such negatives are:

  • You may have higher up-front fees than other types of financing
  • Might prevent you from having equity to liquidate for future needs
  • Could reduce the amount of equity left to your children or grandchildren
  • May become due (and payable in full) if certain loan terms are violated
  • Could impact need-based government assistance such as Medicaid
  • Does not allow interest accrued to be deducted on taxes until the loan becomes due
  • Implications if funds are withdrawn and not spent in one month

Making the Right Decision

Understanding how reverse mortgages work is crucial to know if your circumstances warrant such a loan.  You will need to decide if a reverse mortgage is worth your time, effort, and most importantly – your money.

If you aren’t as proficient in doing research as you’d like, there are classes available that can help.  Finding the best research on the pros and cons of reverse mortgages is definitely the ideal way to make an informed decision.  Check out this online tutorial for tips on how to become an excellent researcher.

It’s also highly recommended to speak with a reverse mortgage lender when you are considering what to do with the equity in your home.  You may also want to check out this article on credit.com for more details on reverse mortgages.

Age Discrimination – Have You Been a Victim?

age discriminationResearch on Aging recently released a study reporting that 63 percent of older ones have experienced discrimination, with the most commonly cited cause of mistreatment being their age.  Not only is this statistic startling enough, the sadness really lies in the resulting effects.  Over a two-year period, everyday discrimination is associated with higher rates of depression and poorer self-rated health.

Dr. Ye Luo, Clemson University sociologist and lead author of the study explains how detrimental everyday discrimination can be.  “Awful things happen and it’s a big shock, but people have ways to resist that damage.  With maturity, people learn coping skills.”  Which is true – humans have a natural ability to cope with certain life stressors.  Discrimination, however, is different.  “It may be more difficult to avoid or adapt to,” Dr. Luo suggests, adding, “It takes a toll you may not even realize.”

Thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are a number of protections in the workplace that prohibit age discrimination.  Congress outlawed discrimination by employers against employees or applicants over the age of 40 with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.  As the Baby Boomer generation reached middle age, our nation’s laws regarding the treatment of older ones took on even greater importance.  Between 1970 and 1991, the number of workers over the age of 40 went from 39,689,000 to 53,940,000 – encouraging several amendments to the Age Discrimination Act.

But does all age discrimination occur in the workplace?  Hardly.  Seniors can experience discrimination in numerous other ways – even on a daily basis.  Similar to discrimination that is based on gender, race, sexual orientation or appearance, age discrimination can happen anywhere at any time.  It’s interesting to note that the discrimination effect on seniors was stronger for everyday slights than for more dramatic events like being denied a job or promotion.

And the scope of discrimination may be even more widespread than we think, as some seniors are unlikely to report their experiences.  Like elder abuse, some older ones are embarrassed or hesitant to admit that they’ve been discriminated against.  Whether they don’t want to be perceived as a nuisance, or fear potential repercussions, many seniors opt for staying silent – which may affect their physical and mental health.

The study conducted by Research on Aging reported that two years after perceiving high levels of discrimination, seniors were experiencing significant levels of depression and lower self-rated health.  If such instances were still bothering those who have shared their stories, imagine how the “silent seniors” must be feeling.

With another year of data to study, Dr. Luo and her team now hope to gain even more insight into the growing problem of age discrimination – and learn how to fight it.

Are You Ready for Retirement?

Are you ready for retirementWith all the concern surrounding our nation’s economy and talk about vanishing retirement funds, many soon-to-be retired Baby Boomers are questioning the financial aspects of their retirement planning.  A less common question is: what about retirement living?  Have you really given serious consideration to what you will do with your time once you retire?

A person can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days,” said Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe.  In other words, people quickly become bored without adequate activities and mental stimulation.  So how do you prepare yourself for a successful retirement?

“A Failure to Plan is a Plan for Failure”

No doubt you’ve heard this familiar expression, but few have actually realized its value with regard to retirement.  If you’re one of many who simply cannot wait to be done with the whole nine-to-five scene, likely you’ve given quite a bit of thought to what you’ll do with your newfound freedom.  For others, the thought of what they’ll do during their golden years fills them with apprehension – even fear.

Retirement is different for everyone.  Some will want to find some sort of work, while others will revel in remaining work-free.  Regardless of your circumstances, finances and goals, the time to start planning for retirement is before you draw your last paycheck.   Don’t assume you will automatically find enough hobbies and activities to fill your days; after all, you can only play so much golf.

Leaving everything up to chance and a vague “I’ll do whatever I please” attitude will only lead to disappointment.  If you want your retirement to be everything you dreamed it would be, you need a plan.

What Will You Do with Your Life?

Joan Carter, co-founder of Life Options Institute recommends everyone contemplating retirement to do the following:

  • Make life plans.  This is just as important as financial planning.  Knowing what you want to do with your time – and making realistic goals – will help you navigate the new world of retirement.
  • Find a purpose.  It’s unrealistic to believe you’ll simply know what you want to do with your spare time.  A surprising number of retirees end up fighting off feelings of depression once they no longer work for a living because they have stopped feeling useful.  Finding a purpose means involving yourself in ongoing activities that will make your life meaningful and add structure to your life.
  • Develop new friendships.  Resist the urge to withdraw socially as you “figure out” what you want to do with yourself.  Check out volunteer organizations or community centers that include people who share your interests.  This is especially important if many of your regular friends are still working.

Experts agree that a successful retirement depends upon the individual pre-determining the specific factors that will make their personal retirement satisfying.  They also recommend developing an alternative plan in case you experience a temporary setback in your finances that make your original plan unfeasible.  The better you plan ahead, the more you’ll enjoy your retirement.