Senior Driving Tips That Can Save Your Life

I want to make memories all over theAs seniors fear having cognitive function or blurred vision for their comfort’s sake, another prime reason to fear these issues is that their keen driving abilities have decreased as well. You need to be sharp mentally and physically to hit the road at all times. These two reasons, along with side effects from prescription medications, are the leading three reasons that seniors are in auto accidents.

According to the CDC, “Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80.” So aside from wearing your seatbelt, here we review a few senior driving tips that can save your life and others.

1, Take a Driving Improvement Course

Did you know there were driving improvement courses specifically for seniors? Talk to your insurance agent as they may offer a course or can refer you. These courses are offered online or in a classroom setting. As the technology implemented on cars increases, you’ll learn all the latest driving techniques to handle them. In the end, you may even receive an additional insurance discount. Wouldn’t that be nice?

2. Know What You Are Comfortable Handling

Some seniors feel they always need to prove themselves. It’s either proving to your loved ones that you are in total control or proving to yourself that you are not old as everyone thinks. However, this frame of mind can surely be dangerous.

You should never put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you know your eyesight is not as well during thunderstorms or snowstorms, you should opt out of driving at that time. Many young adults have difficulty, so there is no shame in doing so. If you are uncomfortable driving fast and keeping up with traffic, avoid highways and find alternative street routes. Leave early enough to allow yourself plenty of time to get to your appointments.

3. Work With an Occupational Therapy Practitioner

As the founding organization of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) knows how to keep seniors safe while on the road. They strongly believe that through occupational therapy, seniors will be able to learn the skills they need to tackle the roads today.

Typically, you’ll find an occupational therapist at a senior’s home, providing rehabilitation services and helping them move around their home safely. The same holds true with the rules of the road. They can help them find out the necessary tools they need to survive, keeping themselves and others safe.

Read: 4 Cell Phone Plans For Seniors

4. Keep Regularly Scheduled Exams

You should have a close relationship with your physician and eye doctor. It’s important to know you are healthy when getting behind the wheel of a car.

Your physician will help gauge if you are healthy enough to drive. Sometimes seniors have too many issues such as diabetes or blood pressure that cause being behind the wheel too dangerous for themselves and others. It can, of course, be controlled with medications, but you’ll never know unless you visit your doctor.

Your eye doctor will help determine any early signs of cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration. They can help you with the perfect eyewear, for daytime and nighttime driving. You need to be able to read all highway and street signs as well as determine traffic-light colors. More than your own life depends on your accuracy.

5. Avoid Taking Medications While Driving

Another thing to consider is taking medications and driving. Even if it does not state it will make you drowsy, take a prescription a few times to see how your body reacts to it.

6. Use Your Mirrors and Signals

There is no excuse to not use your vehicles safety features. For one, make sure you realize, it’s not just you on the road. Use your turning signals to let other travelers know your intentions. Before pulling off each time, ensure your rear and side view mirrors are adjusted well. It’s the little things such as a change of coat or different shoes that can change your normal view.

7. Use Adaptive Equipment When Necessary

There are many changes that affect your body as you age. This in turn can affect your driving skills and mental awareness of your surroundings.

Some impairments can be overcome with a few adaptive equipment pieces. For example, hand controls are available for those who have trouble using the foot pedals. A siren detector is a good tool to have for those whose hearing is not as good as it once was.

This excellent podcast found on the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. website reviews equipment that can make seniors driving safer and more comfortable. Below are a few examples.

• Low effort steering
• Handybar
• OnStar
• Extra or extended mirrors
• Swing-out seat
• Traction control sensors
• Backup camera
• Seat cushions
• Foot pedal extensions

The above seven tips are easy to implement and a great start towards saving your life. Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share?

Holiday Travel Tips For Seniors

Holiday Travel TipsTraveling during the holidays can be a stressful time for many. While people all over the world traveling to see family and friends, the roads and airways are often packed with thousands of people hurrying to get to their next location. In addition, the holidays mean higher travel costs, and people can end the holidays with their pockets empty. While the large crowds are inevitable, there’s some great holiday travel tips for seniors available to make this time easier on you.

Reduce your travel costs

Reducing your travel costs is all about research. When planning for travel, one of the worst mistakes you can make is taking the first plane, train, or bus ticket you find. While there’s a variety of websites available that people often use to get great “deals”, the prices can triple before the holidays. According to experts, during the holiday season you can actually save more money by buying directly from the company’s website. While it can be appealing to book the first ticket you find at what is considered a “holiday price” deal, going directly to the manufacture will save you most on your travel tips this year.

Consider an alternative

While flying can be the most convenient form of travel during the holiday season, it’s also the most expensive one. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may want to consider forms of travel that are less expensive. Alternatively, consider flying out of different locations that are less costly. Here are some alternative options that can help you save on holiday travel this year.

Rather than flying into the city, you can save a lot of money by driving into local regional airport. You may also want to consider traveling by bus or train, as these options can be much less expensive than flying. The best way to save on your holiday travels is to compare the pricing options between the three forms of travel and choose the one that’s cheapest.

Choose low-cost housing

Another huge cost factor during traveling is housing. The lodging you choose can make or break you, making it important to explore your options. The most cost efficient and often the most comfortable option for lodging during travels it to stay with family or friends. You won’t have to pay for each night your there, and you can show them you appreciate their generosity by cooking for meal that everyone will enjoy or planning a night out with everyone to see the new area.

You can also save money on the cost of your lodging by using cost-compare sites online. These will offer you will the best deals in the area, and some hotels offer lower pricing by booking through the website.

Have family visit you

While traveling is always fun, it can also be a great experience to invite your family to town. Even if you’ve been traveling to your relatives for several years, they could be interested in spending the holidays at your home, yet are waiting for you to make the initiative.

If you have family or friends travel to your area, you won’t have to pay for transportation, fuel, or housing. Your main cost factor will be providing meals for the family and sharing your bathroom for a few days. You can create a whole new experience this holiday season housing your family and friends rather than traveling.

Look into senior discounts

There’s some senior discounts available that can help you save significantly on the cost of your travels. These discounts are available for housing and transportation. Some are available world-wide, while others are available to residents in the local area. You can find out more information on these discounts by doing a quick Google search. Once you find the senior discount for travel that you’re interested on, be sure to read the terms and conditions to ensure you fit within the criteria.

Conclusion

There’s no reason to look forward to the holidays with a sense of dread. By using the tips outline in the ladder, you’ll have more time to spend with family and friends, and can enjoy the holidays without being broke by the end of the season.

How to make your 60’s the best years of your life

As time passes, the idea of retirement and enjoying your life without the everyday “adult” responsibilities that can take away from your dreams, is intriguing. There’s no more going to work from 9-5, raising kids is done and over, marriages are settled without worrying about the petty stuff, and it’s finally time to enjoy the life you worked so hard to create.

Many people feel that their 60’s are the best years of their lives, and yours can be too when you follow these fantastic tips. The glory days are here, and it’s time to take them on full force and have the time of your life!

Why your 60’s are the best years

Thanks to medical advancements, we are living stronger and longer than ever before. While the 60’s were once an age you maxed out at, it’s actually considered young these days. According to experts, the new expected life span is 100 or older. So just think, you get to live your life without the normal everyday worries, and are just in the middle of it. You have ten long years to enjoy your new way of life, and the time to enjoy them is now. Don’t sit around wasting time waiting for the best years to come, because they’ve arrived.

Plan a trip

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could plan a trip for three weeks or longer, without the worry of a job, your children, or the need to return to your normal life? Well, you’re in your 60’s, so you can! Planning a trip at this age is the perfect time to do it because it prevents you from getting stuck in “mid-life” mode and thinking that your life consists of sitting around and waiting for the aging process to conclude. Take that retirement money and go somewhere you’ve always dreamed of. Elderly people often travel alone, so even if you don’t feel like bringing anyone along, you’re in luck because no one is going to think twice as you spend weeks relaxing in a nice location completely solo. Or, bring your loved one and let them enjoy this long-lasting vacation too.

Take up a new activity.. any activity!

Have you always dreamed of being an expert guitar player but simply didn’t have the time? Your 60’s is the perfect time to take up that hobby you’ve always dreamed of doing. You’ll have all the time in the world to learn the new technique, or spend time practicing the hobby you enjoy. You can master your new skill in no time, and can rest easy in knowing that you’ve now accomplished all of the goals you’ve had throughout your life.

Carry out your dreams

If you’ve always dreamed of riding in a hot air balloon, or viewing the amazing Northern Lights, your 60’s are the perfect time to fulfill all of your dreams. Many people in their 60’s have said that there’s a ton of activities they’ve always wanted to do, but they simply haven’t had the time to do them. Now is the perfect time to make all of those life-long dreams become a reality.

Create a bucket list

While the activities listed in the ladder are great, everyone has their own list of things they’d love to do. Maybe you’d like to finally face your fear of going on a roller coaster, or maybe you just want to spend more time with your grandchildren. Regardless of what you’d like to do in your 60’s, you can make a unique bucket list and check of the items as you go along.

Whether you have modest dreams, or want to reach for the stars, the time is now. Life like you’ve never seen before is out there waiting for you to explore it, so pack your bags, put on your shoes, and start down the path of making every dream you’ve ever had come true for you. When you retire, life isn’t over, but instead its just begun.

How To Prepare Your Home for an Elderly Parent

It is becoming increasingly common for elderly parents to move in with their children rather than a nursing home or assisted living facility.  It’s estimated that at least 34 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for elderly relatives, spending an average 21 hours a week providing care.  This arrangement can be beneficial in numerous ways, but it requires a considerable amount of self-sacrifice and patience. Preparing your home before Mom or Dad moves in is an excellent way to get the arrangement off to the right start.  “Elder-proofing” your home will prevent accidents and make life safer for the senior.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

How to Make Your Home Senior-Friendly

Whether you are sprucing up a spare bedroom or building an addition, specific adjustments will need to be made to accommodate the senior moving in.  You will need to:

  • Lay down anti-slip mats under your throw rugs, or remove all rugs completely.
  • Fit furniture bumpers over sharp corners to soften the edges.
  • Ensure all walkways are well-lit.  Plug night-lights into the bedroom, bathroom, and hallway.
  • Replace door knobs with easy-to-open handles.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Reposition any furniture obstructing walk ways.
  • Install ramps for wheelchairs and widen doorways if necessary.

How to Make Your Home Their Home

Making your elderly parent feel at home is just as important as keeping them safe.  Adjusting to a new home and lifestyle will be difficult, so you’ll want to make it as seamless as possible.  Here are a few tips.

  • Bring in as much of your parent’s furniture as possible.
  • Decorate the senior’s bedroom with their tastes in mind.
  • Try to make room for your relative’s pet (if they have one).
  • Get your parent a cell phone, or at least put a landline in their room.

You may also want to consider having a separate thermostat in your parent’s bedroom.  Older ones often like it warmer than the rest of the family, but they may not speak up if they are uncomfortable.  If a separate thermostat is not an option, purchase a space heater. The lengths you go to determine your parent’s safety and comfort will determine the success (or failure) of the living arrangements.  Remember, your parents did everything they could to care for you as a child; this is your chance to return the favor.

6 Ways to Feel Young Again – Part Two

feeling young againIf you’re one of the millions who wish they could rewind time and feel young again, don’t despair.  While there is no miracle cure that will actually transport you back to your youthful vigor, there are many steps you can take to feel better and have more energy.  In our last post, we discussed the importance of getting adequate sleep, maintaining a regular exercise program, and keeping romance alive in your relationship.  For three more easy ways to feel young again, read on.

  1. Take a B12 supplement.  If you’re a fan of Dr. Oz, you’ve probably heard him talk about the benefits of vitamin B12.  Often called the “energy pill,” B12 has been the go-to supplement for those looking to increase energy levels.  Vitamin B12 is needed to convert carbohydrates into glucose in the body – resulting in energy production and decreased fatigue. Since our bodies don’t always absorb B12 from the proteins we eat (especially as we get older), experts recommend taking a B12 supplement.
  2. Stay socially active.  Spending time with family and friends becomes even more important as we age.  Keeping an active social calendar wards off loneliness which can easily lead to depression.  Don’t limit yourself when it comes to social engagements.  Variety, after all, is the spice of life.  If you’ve gotten into a rut of Friday-night poker games that just isn’t doing it for you anymore, invite your buddies to spend the evening at a comedy club.  Remember, laughter is the best medicine.
  3. Travel.  Taking vacations to see the world benefits you in a multitude of ways.  First of all, it gives you something to focus on and look forward to – rather than thinking about your advancing age.  Travel also satisfies our mind’s natural curiosity about the world, which goes a long way in keeping us young at heart.

In addition to these 6 tips, you might also want to try:

• Volunteering at a local charity
• Starting a crafts project
• Trying a new hobby
• Spending more time with grandchildren
• Getting a pet

Whether you are 60, 70, or 80 (or bless you, even older!) you can still be young at heart.  No matter what works for you – or what doesn’t – the key is to never stop trying.

Did you miss Part One? Click here

Best Cities for Retirement

senior couple in city park

In a recent post we discussed how you can plan for a successful retirement.  Now that you’ve got a detailed list of goals and a retirement date in mind, you may be considering moving.  Before you pack your bags and put your home up for sale, check out a few of these popular retirement cities.

Flagstaff, Arizona

“There is a lot of sunshine and no extremes in temperature,” says Karen Haskins, a 71 year old retiree who moved to Flagstaff in 2007.  Haskins highlights one of the main reasons retirees flock to Flagstaff: pleasant year-round weather.  Flagstaff’s high altitude and low humidity makes for a winning combination weather-wise.  The sun shines in Flagstaff an average of 78 percent throughout the year, but unlike other sunny climates, the temperature only rises above 90 degrees an average of 3 days per year.  Although it does snow in the winter, it quickly melts in the sun.  If you’re tired of shoveling but aren’t too keen on the tropical heat of Florida, Flagstaff may be the perfect place for you.

Durham, North Carolina

For seniors who are looking to experience a variety of culture in their golden years, Durham fits the bill.  North Carolina as a whole is filled with museums, diverse art and cultural hot spots, wineries, theaters and playhouses, performing arts facilities, and fun festivals.  Durham features affordable housing and safe neighborhoods.  Similar to Arizona, temps rarely hit the extremes.  The mild climate gives you an opportunity to enjoy the lush landscapes and take advantage of all the outdoor recreation North Carolina has to offer.

Bellingham, Washington

In addition to the fact that Washington does not have income tax, this prime spot of the Pacific Northwest has a lot more going for it.  Bellingham is a small city (approximately 70,000) nestled between the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains.  Although Washington is frequently cloudy, the temperatures are mild.  The coldest average temp for January is 32 degrees – a major draw for many seniors who are used to temps well below zero.  Bellingham features a flourishing arts scene, fresh farmers markets, and fun recreational opportunities.

Hanover, New Hampshire

I’m a huge fan of New England, and New Hampshire is definitely one of my favorites.  Residents of New Hampshire have got it all – culture, spectacular scenery, charming villages, fresh seafood, and beautiful beaches.  Outdoor enthusiasts can swim in the summer and ski in the winter.  Although the prices of homes in Hanover can be a bit steep, there is no sales tax and the state does not tax retirement plan withdrawals.

Many personal factors come into play when deciding where to retire.  One person’s paradise may be another person’s nightmare, so picking the best cities for retirement really depends on what you prefer.  Do plenty of research before you make your decision, and don’t let anyone influence you – except your spouse perhaps.

How to Fight the Winter Blues

For most of us, winter is here in full force.  Cold temperatures and gray skies mean more than just winter coats and snow tires; for many it means coping with bouts of serious depression.  You don’t necessarily have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) if you feel down during the winter months, but if this happens season after season, it could be a possibility.

There are many reasons seniors get depressed during winter.  It can be a combination of holiday stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise – just to name a few.  As the days get shorter and nights get colder, even those who generally love winter can feel a little out of sorts.  Thankfully there are several tips and tricks that can help everyone enjoy a happier winter season.

  1. Eat a healthy diet.  We’re naturally prone to overeat in the winter and if we’re feeling depressed, we’re even more apt to turn to food for comfort.  Sweet, sugary foods that are filled with empty calories not only zap your energy but can also deepen your depression.  Eating a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins will stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.
  2. Get enough sleep.  Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night, and do your best to keep your sleep and wake time schedule consistent.  Be careful not to oversleep; this can actually make you more tired.  If you’re feeling sluggish midday, take a 20 to 30 minute nap.
  3. Soak up the sun.  Granted, there may not be much sunlight to soak up in the winter months, but it does exist.  Avoiding the outdoors because it’s cold is a mistake because lack of Vitamin D from the sun can make you depressed.  Bundle up and take a brisk walk, or at least sit by the window with the shades pulled up.  If sunlight is sorely lacking in your area, try an artificial light box.  Many people see improvement in their moods in about two weeks.
  4. Maintain a regular exercise program.  Staying active will not only fight off the winter blues, it will also keep you fit and healthy.  Exercise promotes good cardiovascular health, improves quality of sleep, and releases positive, mood-boosting hormones.  Start with just thirty minutes at least three days a week and you’ll soon start seeing numerous benefits.
  5. Stay socially active.  Hibernation is for animals only.  We know the natural tendency can be to stay in and hunker down during winter but it’s important to keep an active social calendar.  Regular association with friends and family goes a long way in fighting off feelings of depression.

Make the most of this winter season and try the above tips.  You’ll be surprised at how fast spring arrives!