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Beware of the senior driver during the holidays

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Texas drivers are growing older as baby boomers are creeping into senior citizen ranks, notes Consumer Reports.

With older people on the road, the magazine warns that as many as 76 percent of people with mild dementia are still able to pass a driving test.

"Several skills, specifically vision, response time and neuromuscular control, worsen with age," says Orly Avitzur, M.D., medical adviser to Consumer Reports Health and a board certified neurologist.

"It is also clear that driving skills can deteriorate as cognitive abilities - memory, language, perception, reasoning and thinking - decline," she says.

"I recommend to my patients that they use holiday reunions as a time to get the family together to discuss a senior's driving ability and agree on the next steps."

If you are concerned that it may be time to take your parents' keys, here are some tips:

1. Call in reinforcements. One child or relative shouldn't try to take on a senior by themselves. Having the family come together and share their concerns sends a more cohesive message.

2. Let their doctor be the bad guy. If you're afraid that mom or dad won't listen to you or your siblings, call in their doctor to tell them they're "fired from driving." Many seniors treat what their doctors say as gospel, so don't hesitate to use them.

3. Texas has various restrictions for the senior population, so check the laws. For specifics, go to www.iihs.org/laws/olderdrivers.aspx.

4. There are many alternatives to your parents having to use their vehicle. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for more details.

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