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Driving it home

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Senior drivers get all the blame.

We drive too slowly in our cars, can't decide whether to turn here or there, and tend to disregard the irritated young drivers revving their engines and showing us half of the peace sign as they race past.

It's good that we don't engage in any road rage behavior, even if we may have been the irritant for that reaction in the other driver. However, if these driving situations start becoming a routine experience whenever we take to the road, it may be time to pull in to the rest stop ahead and take time to assess ourselves.

Aging can be hard to accept in ourselves. But, look around you, at close friends and family. Do they resemble themselves in photos from 5 or 10 years before? Be honest, and you'll know the feeling. Could this also mean that we are not as capable as drivers as we once were?

Our eyesight changes as we age. Night driving can become quite an adventure when attempting to look away from oncoming headlights because of the blinding glare, or shadows created by streetlights nearly make you swerve to avoid what you thought you saw.

Or, do our reflexes also become stiff and less fluid? Less likely to respond to our brain's messages?

How about our emotional attitude when driving? Are we more stressed at the amount of traffic that we have to maneuver through, or the immigrant drivers who still believe they're in their old country?

Are we becoming more forgetful behind the wheel? Or, worse, did we forget to take our medications in the morning?

If all these questions don't apply to you as a senior in the Baby Boomer generation or prior, then you are in excellent shape for driving. However, if some of this hits home, then it's time you assessed your ability to continue driving safely.

Like death and taxes, it is inevitable that your driving ability will cease at some point of the latter stages of your life. Give yourself periodic checkups and discuss your physical condition for driving with your physician and ophthalmologist or vision care provider.

Similar to exercise that we engage in to keep our bodies fit, we also need to keep our mental capacities sharp. Do and learn new things: a musical instrument, a second language, regular crossword puzzles and even spending time with your grandchildren and interacting with them.

Driving a vehicle can be hazardous to your health as well as that of your passengers, other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The real solution remains with us and our responsibility to ourselves.

Nobody wants to be denied the privilege of operating a vehicle, but at some point that privilege could be abused by crotchety, stubborn old seniors.

Just be willing to hand over the car keys when it's your time.

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