Posts Tagged ‘Oak Park assisted living’

Seniors Assess Denture Care

You may have no teeth, but you still need to see the dentist. Bummer, right? According to, gum care is important – teeth or no teeth – and a dental professional needs to make certain that dentures fit properly. They may need to be relined, and they may no longer fit correctly.

Of course, dentures are the last resort, and every effort should be made to keep permanent teeth as long as possible. Even if you have lost some teeth, a partial denture is preferable to removal of all remaining teeth if those teeth are still in acceptable condition.
A denture is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available – complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are missing, while partial dentures are used when some natural teeth remain.

According to, complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate.” Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about 8 to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period.

However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.

Are There Alternatives to Dentures?

Yes, dental implants can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Consult your dentist for advice.

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dentures?

Most dental insurance providers cover some or all of the cost of dentures. However, contact your company to find out the specifics of what they will cover.

How Are Dentures Made?

The denture development process takes about three weeks to 1.5 months and several appointments. Once your dentist or prosthodontist (a dentist who specializes in the restoration and replacement of teeth) determines what type of appliance is best for you, the general steps are to:

1. Make a series of impressions of your jaw and take measurements of how your jaws relate to one another and how much space is between them.

2. Create models, wax forms, and/or plastic patterns in the exact shape and position of the denture to be made. You will “try in” this model several times and the denture will be assessed for color, shape, and fit before the final denture is cast.

3. Cast a final denture

4. Adjustments will be made as necessary

A dozen facts about dentures (

1. Dentures don’t last forever.

2. Even if dentures fit perfectly, you should still see a dental professional regularly.

3. No one has to know you’re wearing dentures.

4. Denture wearers can eat more normally.

5. Denture wearers can speak more clearly.

6. Adhesives can play a role in denture’s fit and comfort.

7. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect dentures.

8. Don’t assume regular denture care is too costly.

9. Never try to make your own denture repairs.

10. With planning, denture corrections can often be made in one day.

11. Don’t avoid replacing your denture just because you don’t want to go through another long adjustment period.

12. All dentures are not created equal. If you look for the lowest price, you’ll get what you pay for.





Another Bruise?

What causes that dark, unsightly mark on a limb known as a bruise? Unable to remember bumping into anything, an older adult may be baffled about how a new bruise happened. It’s common to experience easy bruising with increasing age, because blood vessels become more fragile with age.

Bruises result when trauma or a blow to the body damages or ruptures tiny blood vessels under the skin. Not only are the elderly more prone to bruising, less force is required to cause a bruise. And with greater impact, deeper bruises of the muscles or bone can happen, which take longer to heal.

According to A Place for Mom, the medical term for a bruise is a contusion. What happens is blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually the body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. If a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard, it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.

Some people – especially women – are more prone to bruising than are others. In fact, several factors may contribute to increased bruising, including (Mayo Clinic):

  • Aging capillaries – Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.
  • Thinning skin – With age, skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels against injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates the aging process in the skin.

Generally, the harder the blow, the larger the bruise. However, if a person bruises easily, a minor bump – one they may not even notice – can result in substantial discoloration. Arms and legs are typical locations for bruises.

Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) or medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix) reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Because of this, bleeding from capillary damage that would normally stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing enough blood to leak out to cause a bruise.

In addition, certain dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo also may increase bruising, because these supplements have a blood-thinning effect. Make certain the doctor knows about any supplements.

Bruise prevention

Below are some steps to take to prevent bruising from falls and collisions:

  • Hold the handrails on stairways.
  • Don’t stand on a chair to get to something.
  • Clear floors where you walk.
  • Mount grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Tack down all carpets and area rugs.
  • Always close cabinet doors and drawers so you won’t run into them.
  • Be especially careful around pets.

Guide for senior grandparents in Oak Park

“Grandparents hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.”
- Anonymous

The joy of being a grandparent is immeasurable. Some think grandparenting is even better than parenting – not as much pressure or worry and lots more sheer enjoyment. And they do go home, don’t they?

Most new grandparents are shocked by the depth of love they experience. It’s as if grandchildren are compensation for growing old.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to play, to love a young child again, and to appreciate the magic of a developing mind. Grandparents can share the things they’re passionate about with a new audience; experience music, nature, the zoo, museums, reading, gardening, theater and other interests in conjunction with a curious young mind.

Grandparenting is an opportunity to watch children develop through all stages of growth; it is an invitation to learn about ‘their’ music and ‘their’ passions and to provide input that parents cannot.

Usually, grandparents have the benefit of interacting on a level that is once removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents. This can make it easier to develop a close bond with grandchildren. From near or far, grandparenting can provide continuity in a child’s life, since grandparents are often the family historians who can add a rich sense of family tradition to a child’s life.

Contact with grandparents can teach children positive attitudes towards aging and help them develop skills to enhance their own lifelong learning.

Making the most of your grandparenting time from HelpGuide:

  • Carve out one-on-one time. On occasion, spend time with individual grandchildren. It will give  an opportunity to bond, without competition.
  • See the sights. Concerts and plays, movies, zoos, science centers and museums, parks or simple walks in the neighborhood provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions.
  • Play games. Board and card games are a unique opportunity to watch kids in action and to see how they operate in the world. Games also allow you to help your grandchild learn to be a good sport and play fairly.
  • Communicate family history. Tell stories about games or trips you shared when the grandchild’s parents were young. This is a great way to weave a ‘tapestry’ of shared experiences for the whole family.

What smells so good?

Sense of Smell - Oak Park RetirementSniff, sniff. Imagine the smell of a stargazer lily or of fresh baked bread. Imagine throwing open the window on one of spring’s first warm days and smelling the sweet air. These are some of life’s free gifts.

But also imagine if smell was missing. None of us really notice all the smells around us, but for those whose sense of smell is diminished or missing, it can be a significant loss.

Olfaction is the sense of smell. It’s part of a person’s chemical sensing system, along with the sense of taste. Normal smell occurs when odors around a person, like the fragrance of flowers or the smell of baking bread, stimulate specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory cells which are located in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose.

Odors reach the olfactory sensory cells via two pathways. The first pathway is by inhaling, or sniffing, through the nose. When people think about smell, they generally think of this pathway.

The second pathway is less familiar. It is a channel that connects the roof of the throat region to the nose. When chewing food, aromas are released that access olfactory sensory cells through this channel. Congestion due to a head cold or sinus infection can block this channel, which temporarily affects the ability to enjoy the flavors of food.

But what are odors? They are small molecules that are easily evaporated and released into the environment and that stimulate these sensory cells. Once the olfactory sensory cells detect the odor molecules, they send signals to the brain, where the person can identify the smell and its source.

For most people, a problem with smell is a minor irritation, but for others it may be a sign of a more serious disease or long-term health condition. According to the National Institute of Health, problems with smell become more common as people get older.


  • 24.5 percent (15 million) of Americans 55 years old or older have a smell problem.
  • 30 percent of older Americans between the ages of 70 and 80 have a problem with the sense of smell.
  • Two out of three people over 80 have a problem with their sense of smell.
  • A person’s sense of smell generally declines when he or she is over 60.
  • Only one to two percent of people under the age of 65 will experience some problem with their sense of smell.
  • Women of all ages are generally better at detecting odors than men.

There are five types of smell loss:

  • Presbyosmia – Smell that declines with age. It is not preventable.
  • Hyposmia – The ability to detect certain odors is reduced. This smell disorder is common in people who have upper respiratory infections or nasal congestion. This is usually temporary and goes away when the infection clears up.
  • Anosmia – This is when someone can’t detect odor at all. This type of smell disorder is sometimes the result of head trauma in the nose region, usually from an automobile accident or chronic nasal or sinus infections.
  • Dysosmia – This is a change in the perception of odors. Familiar odors may become distorted, or an odor that usually smells pleasant instead smells foul. Sometimes people with this type of smell disorder also experience headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, or anxiety.
  • Phantosmia – This is when someone perceives a smell that isn’t present at all.

If someone thinks they have a smell disorder, it’s time to visit the doctor. Diagnosis is important because once the cause is found, the doctor may be able to treat it. Many types of smell problems are reversible, but if they are not, counseling and self-help techniques may help the person cope.


Seniors Eat ‘holiday healthy’

The holidays are a time of merriment, family and food – lots of food. It is not unusual for people to gain 5 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Yes the food is part of it all, but holiday eating needn’t be high in fat, sugar and calories and short on nutrition. Just a few minor ingredient changes can make all the difference. Just think – you may not have to have to make the diet resolution this year!

According to, mulled cider or lowfat eggnog are good alternatives to high fat eggnog. Eggnog can also be diluted with skim milk. Nonalcoholic or de-alcoholized wines are improving all the time and make a great alternative for the holidays.

Skim milk and other ‘low’ or ‘no’ fat dairy products can be used in recipes whenever possible.

All meats should be cooked on a rack so fat can drip away. Another good idea is to baste with low fat broth instead of the drippings from the pan.

Fortunately, most vegetables contain little or no fat. Avoid smothering vegetables with thick creamy sauces or butter. In addition, salads are a great at a holiday meal.

Rather than cooking stuffing inside of poultry or a roast, cook the stuffing in a casserole dish or aluminum foil in the oven. This will reduce the amount of fat in the stuffing.

Making gravy from a low fat broth rather than the drippings from poultry or a roast is a good way to reduce fat. Or add ice cubes to cool drippings. The fat will stick to the cubes and can be removed.

Cranberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C. However, the canned version looses much of the nutrients. If you make your own, substitute some artificial sweetener for some of the sugar in the recipe.

A good dessert is angel food cake which contains little or no fat when served with fruits such as strawberries or raspberries.

There are many ways in which you can help to strike a balance between maintaining a healthy diet and joining in with the fun and festivities. Here’s a list from

  1. Exercise: Yep, you have to do it, but start slowly. Try a brisk walk before the day takes over. Stretching in the evening helps with relaxation.
  2. Review your cooking methods: Grill, don’t fry. Use spray oils. Lighten up on the sauces.
  3. Invest in lower fat ingredients for cooking: By swapping regular ingredients, foods and drinks for their half-fat alternatives you can make a big cut-back on fat and calorie consumption.
  4. Prepare for outings: If there’s a social function ahead, eat a low-fat, healthy snack before the party. You may not lose control at the party – at least food-wise.
  5. Be wary of sugary foods: Always remember that rich, sugary foods have a nasty habit of making us crave yet more rich and sugary foods.
  6. Stock up on healthy snacks: When shopping, buy some healthy snacks such as raw carrots and celery.
  7. Moderate alcohol intake: Alcohol contains calories and lots of them. Try lower-calorie beers and wines.
  8. Be assertive: If you say “No thanks” don’t be bullied into eating more.
  9. Leave what you don’t want: When you feel full, stop eating. Simple. (Really, it isn’t so simple, but try it.)
  10. Spend extra calories carefully. If homemade red velvet cake is a “must,” don’t eat a mediocre appetizer.

And happy holidays!


Baby, it’s cold outside

Although the fall weather has been gloriously moderate, one can be certain that cold weather is on the way. It is important to remember that the cold temperatures of winter are especially dangerous for older adults. Seniors may not be able to feel that they are getting too cold, or they may set their thermostats low to save on heating costs.

A drop in body temperature is called hypothermia (hi-po-ther-mee-uh), and it can be deadly if not treated quickly. Hypothermia can happen anywhere, not just outside and not just in northern states. In fact, some older people can have a mild form of hypothermia if the temperature in their home is too cool.

When you think about being cold, you probably think of shivering. That is one way the body stays warm when it gets cold. But, shivering alone does not mean you have hypothermia.

So how do you know if someone has hypothermia? According to the National Institute on Aging, look for the umbles” – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles. These may be clues that the cold is a problem.

Check for:

  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Change in behavior or in the way a person looks
  • A lot of shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs
  • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions

According to, during each cold weather month, many seniors die from hypothermia.

Wearing more clothes and proper cold-weather attire are necessary for aging adults. Indoors, many seniors may require an extra blanket or thicker socks.

To prevent hypothermia (very low body temperature), a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition, ), read these tips offered by the National Institute on Aging:

  • Ask your doctor if you have any health conditions or take any medications that make it hard for your body to stay warm. At increased risk are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Set your thermostat above 65 degrees; older people are at higher risk of becoming ill during the cold winter months.
  • Try to stay away from cold places. Changes in your body that come with aging can make it harder to feel when you are getting cold. It also may be harder for your body to warm itself.
  • Wear several layers of loose clothing indoors and out. The layers will trap warm air between them. Tight clothing can keep your blood from flowing freely, which can lead to loss of body heat. Hypothermia can occur in bed, so wear warm clothing to bed and use blankets.
  • Ask friends or neighbors to look in once or twice a day if you live alone. Your area may offer a telephone check-in or personal visit service.
  • Use alcohol moderately, if at all. Avoid alcohol altogether near bedtime.
  • Eat hot foods and drink hot liquids to raise your body temperature and keep warm.
  • Keep aware of the daily weather forecast and be sure to dress warmly enough, with hat and gloves, if you must go out. In extremely low temperatures with wind-chill factors, weather forecasters may suggest staying inside.
  • Make sure you eat enough food to keep up your weight. If you don’t eat well, you might have less fat under your skin, and fat can help protect you by keeping heat in your body. Also, drink 10 glasses of water or other non-alcoholic liquids daily.

And remember, spring will eventually come. Promise.


Seniors in Oak Park – River Forest say, ‘Gesundheit’

Ah-choo! With cooler weather on the way, the cold season revs up, and there’s nothing as miserable as a bad head cold. How about this statistic from Americans “catch” an estimated one billion colds every year. Most adults suffer from two to four colds per year.

The common cold causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and, in some cases, coughing and a sore throat. Colds can occur at any time during the year but are most common in the fall and winter months.

A head cold really is a viral infection which settles in the mucus membranes of the nose. A cold is usually harmless, although it can be quite uncomfortable. Typically it resolves on its own after around ten days. Some people experience a mild fever and watery eyes, and people may complain of feeling unwell.

The mucus which drains from the nose is typically clear in color. Some people with a head cold find that they cough and experience hoarseness because of mucus dripping down their throats.

No vaccine has been developed for the common cold which can be caused by many different viruses, but there are some common-sense precautions to slow the spread of autumn viruses:

  • Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly and often. Carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 percent alcohol for times when soap and water aren’t available. These gels kill most germs.
  • Scrub your stuff. Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, especially when someone nearby has a cold.
  • Use tissues. Always sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away, and then wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Don’t share. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick.
  • Steer clear of colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.

Drinking lots of fluids, especially warm fluids, can help as can staying in a warm and slightly humid environment. Avoiding dairy is advised, because this tends to increase mucus production. Rest, many people think, helps a cold resolve more quickly.

If a head cold is persistent, a doctor can prescribe decongestants and pain management medications. Saline rinses or sprays in the nose can also help to flush out the mucus and increase comfort. However, patients should be aware that prolonged use of decongestant sprays can lead to an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose.

Sometimes a head cold can become a sinus infection. A head cold can also lead to an ear infection. While these infections sometimes can resolve on their own, medical treatment may be necessary especially if the condition becomes especially painful.

Web MD mentions more worrisome situations and complications when it comes to colds. It’s a good idea to consult the doctor for any of these conditions:

  • Asthma and Colds – Living with asthma is no easy task, and a cold can make breathing more difficult.
  • Heart Disease and Colds – Catching a cold for someone with heart disease poses a greater danger, because the cold makes it difficult to take in oxygen efficiently.
  • Diabetes and Colds – For those with diabetes, a common cold makes it difficult to keep blood glucose levels balanced.

It’s ‘Too Darn Hot’ for Seniors in Oak Park

Heat and humidity are a given in mid-summer, but if you’re a senior citizen, hot weather can be much more than just a nuisance. The body’s natural defenses against heat can break down with age, putting seniors at risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other serious disorders.

According to, several factors make senior citizens especially vulnerable to hot weather, according to. Older bodies can be slow to sense and respond to changes in heat, so seniors often don’t start sweating until their temperature has already soared. Even when the body’s cooling devices kick in, they probably don’t work as well as they used to. Sweat glands can grow less efficient with age, and other normal changes in the skin slow down the release of heat.

In addition, many common conditions can hamper an older person’s ability to regulate temperature, including diseases of the heart, lung, and kidneys; high blood pressure; diabetes; and other conditions that cause poor circulation. Finally, several medications commonly prescribed to seniors can affect the body’s ability to cool down. These include antidepressants, motion sickness drugs, and blood pressure medications.

For all of these reasons, it’s essential for seniors and their loved ones to understand the signs of dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion, the most common forms of heat-related problems.

Dehydration occurs when a person loses more fluid than he or she takes in, and the body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. There are serious consequences if the lost fluids are not replaced.

Common causes of dehydration include diarrhea, vomiting, fever or excessive sweating. Inadequate intake of water during hot weather also may cause dehydration. Anyone can become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk.

A person can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by increasing the intake of fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment. Of course, the safest approach is prevention. Monitor fluid loss during hot weather, illness or exercise, and drink enough liquids to replace what’s lost.

Heat exhaustion is a condition with symptoms that may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of the body overheating. A cause of heat exhaustion includes exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person’s body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke can be brought on by high environmental temperatures, by strenuous physical activity or by other conditions that raise the body temperature. Whatever the cause, immediate medical attention is required in order to prevent brain damage, organ failure or death.

Heatstroke is the escalation of two other heat-related health problems: heat cramps and heat exhaustion. In these conditions, a person develops signs and symptoms that are milder than those of heatstroke. Heatstroke can be prevented with medical attention or by taking self-care steps as soon as problems are noticed.

Heat waves are often deadly for seniors. Older people living in homes without air conditioning need to be checked at least twice a day when the temperature reaches 90 and above, according to

The best way to stay cool during a heat wave is to stay indoors with the air conditioner on high. If there is no air conditioner, consider taking a trip to a cooling center, an indoor mall, library, or movies. A fan can help, but it can’t take the place of an air conditioner. If the temperature reaches the 90s, even the best fan may not protect a person from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Seniors, when you do go outside on a hot day, use common sense. Drink more than you need to quench your thirst, and if you’re sweating heavily, choose fruit drinks or sports beverages to replace lost minerals.

Like the song from Kiss Me Kate says, “It’s Too Darn Hot.”


Seniors in Oak Park prevent falls and fractures

The commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” is no joke. For seniors, falling rarely just happens but rather results from multiple causes that occur over time. As people age, their muscles and bones can weaken, balance can be affected, and certain medications and medical conditions can make falling and fractures more likely. Seniors who are also more prone to diseases like osteoporosis are more susceptible to experiencing a fall.

According to, every year more than 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency department for fall related injuries. Falls are the main cause of fractures, loss of independence, hospital admissions and death.

Hip fractures are the most common and serious type fall related injuries. After such a fall, only half of older adults hospitalized with hip fractures can return home and live on their own. About 80 percent of hip fractures occur in women. Women lose bone density at a faster rate than men do. The drop in estrogen levels that occurs with menopause accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of hip fractures as a woman moves beyond menopause. However, men also can develop dangerously low levels of bone density.

The fear of falling causes older adults to avoid physical activities, such as walking and exercise. But the truth is physical activity can help prevent falls. Some seniors who are concerned with falling go to physical therapy which can help improve balance, maintain physical health and prevent falls.

Bone fractures in senior citizens are not only traumatic but can lead to more serious problems later on, but there are some ways to decrease the probability of falling by following some simple guidelines.

Preventive Measures from the National Institute on Aging:

  • The doctor can perform a bone mineral density test that measures bone strength. Some medications can increase bone strength which can prevent likelihood for falling.
  • Take part in healthy amounts of physical activity which will improve balance, muscle tone, joint flexibility, or even slow osteoporosis.
  • Test vision and hearing since defects in sensory functioning can make one less stable overall.
  • Be aware of the side effects of medications which can affect balance and coordination.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed which can also affect balance and coordination.
  • Use a cane or walking stick if needed, and always be careful when walking on unstable or slippery surfaces
  • Wear the right footwear that has rubber soles or low heels.
  • Hold the handrails when going up and down stairs and only hold items in one hand so that you can keep a hand on the rail at all times
  • Use good judgment – stay away from situations that could cause a fall such as a freshly washed floor, trying to reach something that is too high.
  • Research home monitoring systems that will allow for access to help after experiencing a fracture
  • Install good lighting with light switch access both at the top and bottom of staircases.
  • Keep areas where you walk clear.
  • Be sure that carpets are firmly fixed to the floor or apply no-slip strips to slippier surfaces such as wood and tile.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs or inside the bathroom.
  • Place non-skid mats and strips on surfaces that get wet within the bathroom.
  • Keep night lights for easy navigation in the dark in hallways, near the bed, and in the bathroom.
  • Keep a telephone near the bed.
  • Keep electric cords and wires near the wall and out of paths of travel.
  • Tack down carpets and rugs firmly to the floor.
  • Be careful!

Seniors in Oak Park: To drive or not to drive

Giving up driving can be a tremendous blow to an older person. There’s the practical side: how to run errands, get to the doctor, visit friends, etc., and then there’s the emotional side: driving is a key symbol of independence.

Agreeing to forgo driving is in many ways also an agreement to give up one’s independence. It is very tough. Most seniors will drive as long as they can, and many times, it is up to the adult children to decide when driving has become unsafe.

Remember, the issue is safety – both the senior’s and other people. If a person can’t make decisions quickly enough or has difficulty seeing, then it is time to stop driving.

What about driver’s licenses? According to, many seniors will argue they can still drive, because the DMV is still giving them a license. The DMV, however, only sees them for a short period of time and often there is no road test. There is little basis for determining whether they are adequate drivers in a real world environment, so a license doesn’t really mean that much.

Study after study shows that the mere fact a person is older is not an indicator as to whether they can drive. Just because someone is 65 does not mean they should lose their license automatically. The only exception is once a person reaches the age of 80, because people older than 80 get into as many accidents as teenagers.

People age differently. For that reason, it is not possible to set one age when everyone should stop driving. So, how does one know when to stop?

The website tells about unsafe driving warning signs:

  • Problems on the road. Abrupt lane changes, braking, or acceleration. Failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes. Drifting into other lanes. Driving on the wrong side of the road or in the shoulder.
  • Trouble with reflexes. Trouble reading signs or navigating directions to get somewhere. Range-of-motion issues (looking over the shoulder, moving the hands or feet). Trouble moving from the gas to the brake pedal, or confusing the two pedals. Slow reaction to changes in the driving environment.
  • Increased anxiety and anger in the car. Feeling more nervous or fearful while driving or feeling exhausted after driving. Frustration or anger at other drivers but oblivious to the frustration of other drivers, not understanding why they are honking. Reluctance from friends or relatives to be in the car with the senior driving
  • Trouble with memory or handling change. Getting lost more often. Missing highway exits or backing up after missing an exit. Trouble paying attention to signals, road signs, pavement markings, or pedestrians.
  • Close calls and increased citations. More frequent “close calls” (i.e., almost crashing), or dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs. Increased traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers.

If some of the descriptions above are apt, it may be time to think about whether or not a senior is still a safe driver.

Some helpful websites are and

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