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For most of us, driving has been an important aspect for independence. The idea of giving up driving can be distressing, especially if you have been driving safely for years.

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, rates of fatal crashes increased for senior drivers starting at age 70. Aging can bring vision impairments, loss of motion, and decreases in strength and mobility. And while aging doesn't equate to giving up your license, an evaluation of your driving skills might be warranted.

For seniors, there are a few signs to consider:

  • Recent dents or scratches on the car
  • Comments from friends or neighbors about driving skills
  • New health issues
  • Chronic complaining about other drivers
  • Recent tickets
  • An occupational therapist with specialized driver training can evaluate your driving including potential risk factors or the impact of new medications or disabilities. Furthermore, the occupational therapist can offer suggestions such as vehicle modifications, limit drive times to daylight, don't drive in inclement weather, or use city roads instead of freeways.

    The National Institute on Aging recommends that seniors have their vision tested every 1-2 years and every 3 years for hearing.

    Ultimately, everyone should feel safe driving. Anticipate how your driving will be affected in the next few months and years. Be honest with your abilities, and consider recommendations from an occupational therapist to improve your skills and keep you driving for years to come.

    Visit www.aota.org to learn more about the American Occupational Therapy Association. Or call 1-800-877-1383.

    Look for next month's INSIDER article from Prestige Care: Seniors & Driving: How to Talk about Driving with Your Parent.

    Prestige Care Summerplace

    15727 N.E. Russell St. Portland, OR 97230

    (503) 252-9361

    www.prestigecare.com

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