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Senior road safety 101

Seniors visit with guest speaker Lt. Rick Garrison after his presentation.

By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Senior Center had a special guest on Friday, February 8. Lieutenant Rick Garrison from the Tennessee State Trooper Highway Patrol came to discuss warning signs and dangers for senior drivers. His mains points focused on vision, hearing, medication and alcohol effects.

Reuters studies suggest that adults who are no longer easily mobile have a much higher risk of depression. That is why programs such as MyRide TN Johnson County are so popular. Here are some tips on when to hang up the keys.

Bodies change as people age. CDC research shows that 7,400 senior drivers died and more than 290,000 were hospitalized from traffic accidents in 2016, which averages 20 deaths and 794 injuries per day. Be aware of medication effects, attend check-ups, and avoid driving when in immense pain. Certain ailments such as Parkinson’s disease can also weaken personal judgment.

Sensory issues
Eyesight and hearing fade as time goes on. Conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration cause vision problems especially at night. Sound comes second to eyesight in driving. Both of these senses help drivers react to possible obstacles and remain safe. Seniors can miss out on important noises such as sirens. Experts suggest limiting distractions, wearing a seatbelt, and receiving yearly eye exams.

Mental state
Confusion can undermine a driver’s cognizance at inconvenient times. It becomes more difficult to follow driving directions and easier to become lost. Seniors can plan the trip thoroughly beforehand to avoid problems.

Age does not necessarily mean that it is time to stop driving. There are a lot of factors that go into driving. Stay aware and receive regular check-ups to stay safe on the road. A few small tweaks could be all that is needed.

Keep an eye out for more activities at the Johnson County Senior Center. Upcoming events include the Valentine’s Ball Friday, February 15 at 6 PM. Enjoy great food, music, and photos from BlooBird Photography. The menu includes amuse-bouches, surf & turf, roasted potatoes, red velvet cheesecake, a drink, and extra surprises. Tickets are required. Cost: $18. Proceeds go toward the Senior Center & the JCHS Culinary Arts Dept. Find out more at (423) 727-8883.