More safe driving tips for senior drivers

NIAGARA, Wis. — Last week, I began a discussion of seniors and driving — how and why our abilities change with our increasing age. I included a list of signs that may indicate a senior has a driving issue that needs attention. We continue the discussion this week by examining when it is time to discontinue driving all together.

While my husband and I are not to the point where we are unsafe drivers, we have certainly noticed changes that affect our driving ability and have begun to make some adjustments. We tag team — he drives and I navigate — thus sharing the responsibility for the full attention driving requires. We have also stopped driving out of our immediate area at night. And if planning a road trip, we watch the weather forecasts and predicted road conditions — especially in the winter months; if they are unfavorable, we simply stay home instead of risking travel.

We have had some family experience with the difficulty involved with the loss of a loved one’s driver’s license. My husband’s grandfather had all of the warning signs that it was definitely time for a change. Multiple incidents led to many tickets. He frequently got lost. And his car began showing numerous dings and dents. He took a behind-the-wheel driving test with an official DOT examiner and was issued a limited driver’s license that allowed him to legally drive within his immediate neighborhood to all the places he frequented most often: grocery store, gas station, church, and barber shop, plus his favorite Friday fish fry establishment.

This approach worked for a while, but he was a proud and independent man, not to mention of stubborn Dutch origin. Grandpa DeBruin never liked to admit to being stubborn, so called it “pure determination.” When concern was expressed over his breaking the rules regarding his driver’s license, he commented, “They will have to catch me first.” Did I mention he was also inclined to ignore the posted speed limits? Eventually, he was in an accident; thankfully, no one was injured, but his license was revoked.

My husband and I were fortunate in that both of our mother’s voluntarily discontinued driving and forfeited their drivers’ licenses on their own volition. Neither was comfortable driving any longer; the speed and volume of traffic bothered them both. By that time, my mother was living with my brother in a Chicago suburb so he could take her where she needed to go, and my mother-in-law lived in Neenah, Wis., where there were many options for public transportation. Additionally, both had gotten tired of the expense and attention required to maintain a vehicle.

There are many things we can do to keep driving as long as possible. Counter vision changes by getting an eye exam annually, so any corrective lenses are current. Additionally, keep your vehicle’s windshield, mirrors and headlights clean. Also, turn up the brightness on the instrument panel of your car’s dashboard. A visit to an audiologist for a hearing exam should be done annually. If hearing aids are needed, be sure to wear them while driving. Discuss all medications with your family physician to learn if any have adverse effects on your ability to drive. Finally, get plenty of sleep. Discuss any sleep problems with your physician. Drowsy driving definitely impairs ability.

Second, be sure the car you are driving matches your abilities. A powerful truck or large car, while perfectly fine in your younger years, may have become too much for you to handle. Select a vehicle that is size appropriate with automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes. Also, remember to regularly schedule maintenance so any safety issues are promptly found and repaired.

Third, drive defensively. Drivers are even more distracted than they used to be, given the availability of technology that competes for their attention in their car. Assume the other driver is not paying complete attention and do the following: leave greater space between your car and the driver in front of you, pay close attention at intersections, drive with the flow of traffic around you, avoid your own distractions by pulling over to use a cell phone or consult a map or GPS, and allow sufficient braking distance based upon the speed you are traveling — the faster you drive, the more braking time you will need.

Fourth, know your own limitations. If certain driving situations make you uncomfortable, avoid them. Common compensations include:

— driving only during daylight hours;

— not driving in inclement weather;

— not driving where speed and traffic congestion pose a threat, such as on freeways;

–not running errands during peak traffic times when people are going to and from work or when schools dismiss their students; and

— always planning the route before you leave to feel more confident and avoid getting lost.

Finally, if friends or relatives express concerns about your driving ability, listen to them. They have obviously noticed things you have not and have worked up the courage to speak to you about it because they care. Request a comprehensive driving evaluation from the nearest DOT office. Find out if refresher courses are available. And speak to your doctor about your continued ability to drive.

If, indeed, you need to give up your keys, it will certainly require some adjustments but is not the end of the world. Approach it as the next stage of your life. You may feel ashamed or uncomfortable at first, but remember that it takes a lot of courage to stop driving and put the safety of yourself and others first. There also are benefits to not driving. Think of what you can do with all that extra space gained in the garage when you no longer need a car. The money saved on vehicle maintenance and insurance costs will help pay for using alternative transportation, such as a taxi or shuttle service. Walking when you can safely do so will improve your health; you will notice improvements in your mind, mood, sleep, energy and memory. Accepting rides from others will enlarge your social circle. Try offering a friend or neighbor money or a service — such as cooking a meal — in exchange for a ride.

The more alternatives you have to driving, the easier the adjustment will be. Not only do you need to get to your appointments, but you need to get out for social visits and to maintain your hobbies and interests. Don’t be ashamed or self-conscious to let friends and relatives know you are no longer driving; you will be pleasantly surprised how many will offer you a ride so you can stay involved and active. Also, explore any and all public transportation services, such as the taxi service and community shuttles for seniors. If you live further from town, this may be the time to consider a housing change to a senior living facility that is more centrally located.

Last, but not least, remember there are advantages to driving in a rural area. As a friend once told me when describing life up north, “The only traffic jams we have are three whitetail crossing the road at the same time!”






Scenes and sounds, 11:30 a.m Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; resident council, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; May pole, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy,11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; pokereno, 2:30 p.m.; laundry day, 3:30 p.m.; Lawrence Welk, 5 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour/Cinco de Mayo party, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 p.m.; bingo/145th Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Exercise: 11 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 to 11 a.m.; reminisce, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Cooking, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; DT luncheon, noon; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; Norway Senior Center, 10 a.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; comedy movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee Social/puzzle time, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; spelling bball, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; St. Mark’s church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; faces and places, 2 p.m.; activity council, 2 p.m.; romance movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Room to room bingo/name that word, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle, 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie, 10:45 a.m. daily, and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day, every Friday

Sunday: Company’s coming room visits, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Did you know, 10:15 a.m.; Marian Linder music, 2 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Trivia, 10:15 a.m.; Paula D music, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: May Day craft, 10:15 a.m.; jokereno, 2 p.m.; Bible stories, 3 p.m.; jokereno, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; good neighbor bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: All about May, 10:15 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 2 p.m.; chips and chatter, 2:30.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9:30 on Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; derby day, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.; Christian fellowship, 5:30 p.m.

Monday: Spelling bee, 10:15 a.m.; line dancers, 1 p.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Yahtzee, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Laugh out loud, 10:15 a.m.: joker-eno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; help your neighbor 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; help your neighbor, 2 p.m.; whammo, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Mass and adoration, 10 a.m.; exercise 10:15 a.m.; trivia, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Denise S., 2 p.m.

Saturday: 145th Derby Day/Derby Day racing, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; bingo, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Craft class, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Left-center-right, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments 3 p.m.; dinner out, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open on Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; blueberry pie party, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; springtime jingo, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Pastor Doug, 10 a.m.; chair exercise, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Flippo, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; reading with Clover, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Uno, 10 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; cards/21, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; board games, 2 p.m.; comedy hour, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday to Tuesday: Unavailable for April.

Wednesday: Shopping outing, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; Steve Vivio 1:30 and 2:15 p.m.; rummy, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; Trouble, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Rummy, 10:15 a.m.; one-to-one visits, 10:30 a.m.; social circle, 2 p.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the Center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 over 60; $6 under 60; $1 extra for takeout.

Call the center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.

Open: Monday through Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., soup and salad bar; 5 p.m, dinner.

Monday: Soup, salad, ribs and sauerkraut, boiled potatoes with butter and homemade dessert.

Tuesday: Soup, salad, beef roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables and homemade dessert.

Wednesday: Soup, salad, pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables and homemade dessert.

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner — all are welcome for dinner and/or the class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; Mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

Dances take place from 7 to 10 p.m. on the second and fourth Fridays of the month. Admission is $6; coffee is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235.

For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Fence Center/Town Hall


Meal at noon Wednesdays only. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall


Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at the center on Friday only. 

The meal site is temporarily closed Monday through Thursday due to a staffing shortage. 

Tipler Town Hall


Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora


Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230. The menu for the week of April 29 is:

Monday: Enchilada casserole, rice, corn, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Fish, macaroni and cheese, peas, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Beef stroganoff, noodles, broccoli, roll, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Barbecue chicken, baked potato, french green beans, dessert and milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. We welcome any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50.

The menu for the week of April 29:

Monday: Lasagna, garlic toast, winter blend vegetables, salad bar, fruit, juice, and dessert.

Tuesday: Chicken Divan over egg noodles, squash, soup and salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Wednesday: Pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, salad bar, fruit juice, and dessert.

Thursday: Finish pancakes, hash browns, sausage, strawberries, soup and salad bar, and dessert.

May 1: Blood pressure clinic, 11 a.m to noon.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather, so is the senior center. If the schools are on a two-hour delay, the center remains open.  

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

Note: File of Life packets are available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months. A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 


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