Older drivers need to be careful of many things

Several years ago, a song was released titled “The Way.” The melody was catchy enough, but the lyrics were rather haunting in that they chronicled the fate of an elderly couple who just drove off in their car one day and were never heard from again.

No one — not even their children — ever found them. I did a little research on that song and learned it was based on an event that actually happened. A couple in their 90s took a road trip with a definite destination in mind, but they got lost. They parked their car in a remote area and got out and walked. Sadly, they died and were not found for two weeks.

Their children never knew what their intended destination had been but took solace in the fact they had died in the same manner in which they had lived — always together.

I tease my husband that one day we will be that couple. In our household, he does most of the driving when we head out for a road trip, but I am definitely the navigator. This is a role I accept — we all have our strengths, after all — and he jokes that I just like “telling him where to go.” I usually have the route researched and generally know what to expect along the way. And he appreciates that I am watching for the correct exit while he is keeping an eye on traffic.

But I am always amazed when I invariably need to remind him to make specific turns on routes we have traveled together many times. When heading out to Green Bay, I frequently need to remind him to turn right at the bottom of our hill or he will go left to head into Iron Mountain. And he will invariably miss the Breitung Cutoff Road on the way to a friend’s house — again, heading to Iron Mountain instead.

This year, in exasperation, I told him my New Year’s resolution was to simply keep my mouth shut and see where we would end up or how long it would take him to realize that we missed our turn.

“One of these days, we are going to end up like the elderly couple in that song,” I said.

And we both laughed. We are all creatures of habit, not always thinking about things we have done a hundred times before. Sometimes the car drives my husband instead of the other way around.

It is important to realize, however, that as we age, we will all undergo physical changes that will affect our driving. We will not all experience these changes at the same time or in the same manner, so the idea of a universal age at which we all lose our drivers’ licenses is not really fair or realistic.

A better approach is to simply know what to expect as we age and how to best compensate for the inevitable, whenever it may occur.

Vision deterioration is one of the most definite physical changes we will experience. Older eyes become slower at refocusing from one object to another, so the common task of checking the speedometer and then moving attention back to the car in front of us takes longer. In those few seconds, an accident can occur.

Older eyes also are more sensitive to glare, which is why it becomes more difficult to drive at night or when headlights are reflecting off of wet pavement.

Other visual systems affected by aging include peripheral vision, depth perception and color perception. Aging drivers may begin having trouble distinguishing red lights from yellow lights or brake lights from running lights. With age, too, comes diseases of the eye such as cataracts or macular degeneration, which definitely have negative effects on safe driving.

Another physical change that can impair driving ability is hearing loss. By age 65, 33 percent of seniors will have some degree of hearing loss; by the age of 75, that increases to 75 percent. Individual safety, as well as the safety of other drivers, depends upon everyone’s ability to hear and then properly react to sirens and horns.

Motor skills decline with age as well. Muscles weaken, reflexes slow and flexibility decreases, which all affect the ability to quickly change lanes or apply the brakes as changing traffic conditions demand. And the effects of arthritis make it more difficult for seniors to accomplish the quick and fluid maneuvers required for safe driving.

In addition to the physical changes already described, mental issues inevitably arise with aging. Slower cognitive reaction time is inevitable; it simply takes the senior mind longer to translate visual information into physical reaction. Aging also brings sleep issues that contribute to an increased frequency of drowsy driving.

The confusion and disorientation associated with mild dementia or mild Alzheimer’s disease most definitely makes driving more difficult for seniors. They simply do not recognize they are driving in an unsafe manner due to the cognitive impairment characteristic of both of these diseases.

Finally, seniors use a larger number of prescription medications to control a variety of conditions. Many medications have side affects that adversely affect the ability to drive safely.

Recognizing the danger signs is the first step toward finding a solution for unsafe drivers on the road. Watch for the following indications of the problem:

— nervousness or fear while driving;

— exhaustion after driving;

— difficulty interpreting and watching for traffic signs;

— confusing the gas pedal and the brake pedal;

— getting lost more often;

— backing up after missing a highway exit;

— changing lanes abruptly;

— stopping at green lights and running red lights without knowing it;

— leaving the turn signal on indefinitely;

— experiencing a greater number of fender benders and near-accidents;

— an increased number of dents and scratches in your car;

— people not wanting to ride with you while you are driving.

Driving is not just about transportation — it’s also about independence. So asking someone to give up the privilege is a sensitive topic, especially in the rural area where there are fewer options for public transportation.

The following source may be helpful — HelpGuide: Age and Driving: Safety Tips and Warning Signs for Older Drivers, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/how-aging-affects-driving.htm.

We will discuss this topic further next week …. until then, safe driving.

_____

SENIOR LIVING

FACILITIES

Freeman

Kingsford

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.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30; 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.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie & 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: What’s cooking, 11 a.m.; bunko, 1:15 p.m.; jigsaw brain tease, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; spinning records, 1 pm; bingo, 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.; trivia teasers, 10:30 a.m.; afternoon matinee with popcorn, 1:30 p.m..; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memory books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Book club, 10 a.m.; Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; shopping trip, noon; wild life film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee Social / animal kingdom, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; smart shoppers, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; room visits 1 p.m.; monthly birthday party, 2 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search / hangman, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 a.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.

ManorCare

Kingsford

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

Exercise, 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

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

Popcorn Day, every Friday

Sunday: Easter Social, 9:30 a.m.; Easter fun facts, 10:15; company’s coming, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who-what-when – 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan music, 2 p.m.; po-ke-no, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I? – 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2:15 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Sharpen your senses, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party – entertainment by Soundz of Time, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; deal/no deal bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Manor Care monthly, 10:15 a.m.; lucky 13 game, 2 p.m.; movie, 3:15 p.m.

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

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Easter social, 10:15 a.m.; Easter bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Flower planting, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Men’s breakfast, 7 a.m.; “Pictionary,” 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; “Deal or No Deal,” 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.; prayer shawl, 2 p.m.; concert: Jan & Geno, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Casino outing, 9:30 a.m.; ball toss 10:15 a.m.; short stories, 10:30 a.m.; happy hour with Jim D., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Crafts, 10:15 a.m.; pamper and polish, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 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: Birthday party, 2 p.m.

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

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments 3 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.; black jack, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo with Bette, 10 a.m.; alphabet dice, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Dyna stretch, 10 a.m.; plant vegetables, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; cooking class, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Crystal Hogan, 2:30 p.m.; monthly birthday party, 3 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; flippo., 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Jan & Gino, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

SENIOR CENTERS

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

906-875-3315

Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center

906-774-5110

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

906-875-6709

Monday: Soup, salad, lasagna, garlic bread, homemade dessert

Tuesday: Soup, salad, liver & onions, mashed potatoes & gravy, homemade dessert

Wednesday: Soup, salad, pulled pork sandwiches, oven fries, veggies, homemade dessert

Crystal Lake Center

906-774-5888

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 pm.

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

906-246-3559

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

715-528-4890

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.

Tuesday – April 23: Hospice Meeting, 5:30 p.m.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

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

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

715-528-4261

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

715-674-2320

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

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491

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

906-498-7735

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

906-265-6134

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, ext. 235 or ext. 230.

The menu for the week of April 22 includes:

Monday: Turkey dumpling soup, side salad, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs, cauliflower, garlic bread, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Chef’s salad, cottage cheese, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Meat loaf, baby red potatoes, 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 who 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

906-563-8716

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.

Menu for the week of April 22:

Monday: Center will be CLOSED.

Tuesday: Noon Easter Dinner: Ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, soup and salad bar, fruit juice, dessert.

Wednesday: Baked cod, seasoned rice, peas & carrots, salad bar, fruit juice, dessert.

Thursday: Liver & onions or Burger, mashed potatoes & gravy, brussel sprouts, soup & salad bar, dessert.

If Norway-Vulcan area schools are closed due to bad weather days, 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 available at the center.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Meals: 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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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