Mechanicsburg, PA –Today, the Shapiro Administration kicked off Older Driver Safety Week by highlighting the resources the Commonwealth provides older drivers to address the unique challenges they face. A quarter of Pennsylvania's licensed drivers are 65 years of age or older, underscoring the critical need for these resources.
Pennsylvania has a network of shared-ride service providers dedicated to keeping older adults mobile, safe, and engaged in their community. This free transportation program allows citizens aged 65 or older to ride for free on a local, fixed-route service whenever local public transportation is operating. During FY 2022-23, there were more than 2.2 million Senior Shared Rides.
"Mobility is essential to quality of life at any age," said Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Mike Carroll. "While many older drivers have a lifetime of valuable driving experience to draw from, PennDOT continually seeks to balance the safety of our roadways with the need for independence and autonomy."
Approximately 25 percent of Pennsylvania's 9.1 million licensed drivers are 65 and older. In 2022, there were 20,590 crashes involving at least one driver aged 65 or older that resulted in 287 total fatalities. This represents 17.7% of all crashes and 24.3% of all fatalities. Older drivers generally have fewer crashes per driver than the national average – but they have more crashes per mile of driving.
"As Pennsylvania's aging population continues to grow, the Shapiro Administration is committed to ensuring that older adults have the resources they need to remain active in and connected to their communities," said Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) Jason Kavulich. "Driver safety is an important part of how older adults navigate in our community but what is equally important is working with our partners to provide accessible and flexible transportation alternatives to older adults. Pennsylvania is fortunate that our lottery proceeds help to fund alternative services in transportation for its older citizens."
Additionally, working with the PA Department of Human Services and transit agencies, PennDOT developed an online tool called Find My Ride that allows older drivers to access free ride services online. The app allows transit agencies to process applications more efficiently, so users can access benefits more quickly. The app can be found at: findmyride.penndot.pa.gov or at www.penndot.pa.gov by clicking on Travel in PA, then Public Transit Options.
"Along with the unique challenges already faced by older drivers, seasonal factors such as winter weather conditions, longer nights, and heavy holiday traffic create challenges for drivers of all ages," said Lieutenant Adam Reed, Director of the Communications Office with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). "Before getting behind the wheel, older drivers should ensure that their eye exams are up-to-date and understand how prescribed medications could affect their driving. It's also important for all drivers to remember to buckle up every time!"
Representatives from PennDOT, PDA, PSP, AAA and AARP manned information booths to share advice and methods for helping The Manor at Oakridge residents safely extend their years on the road. Advice ranged from knowledge of current and less emphasized laws to recognizing signs that it may be time to give up driving. For example, one program discussed was CarFit, an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed with AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. CarFit is designed to help older drivers find out how well they currently "fit" their personal vehicle, to learn how they can improve their fit, and to promote conversations about driver safety and community mobility.
"We remind all our older Pennsylvanian drivers that auto insurance is an important financial protection and that there are ways to reduce the cost of it," said Jodi Frantz, Chief of Staff for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. "Older drivers can get a break on their insurance rates. If all drivers on your policy are 55 or older, you can take a PennDOT approved mature driver class and qualify for at least a 5 percent discount. We also encourage these Pennsylvanians to talk to their agent or insurance company if they are driving less or if they think there are coverages that they no longer need."
A list of approved mature driver courses available can be found online on PennDOT's Mature Driver Improvement Courses.
While every person ages differently, aging typically brings certain -- sometimes subtle -- physical, visual, and cognitive changes that could impair an older person's ability to drive safely. Older drivers and their families should work together to identify potential issues that may affect driving, outline courses of action to assist the older driver, and plan for when it's time to hang up the keys.
Signs that can indicate it may be time to limit or stop driving altogether include:
The Shapiro Administration encourages older drivers and their loved ones to review PennDOT's Seniors Driving Safely publication series, which can be downloaded for free from the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website. These publications help older drivers assess their abilities and offer guidance on next steps if their medical condition is reported to PennDOT. The series also includes a publication designed to guide family and friends of older drivers in what can sometimes be difficult conversations about deciding to stop driving, as well as information for healthcare providers on PennDOT's medical reporting program.
The following safe-driving habits, which should be routine at any age, are especially useful to older drivers:
Pennsylvanians with insurance questions can contact the Insurance Department Consumer Services Bureau online or at 1-877-881-6388.
Additional information on older driver safety and mobility resources is available at both PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services and the Department of Aging websites.
How to Prevent Family Conflict Over Aging ParentsWhen it comes to aging parents, certain topics are often at the forefront of the conversation senior living, health care, and financial planning, to name a few. However, there is one topic that is very common but not as openly discussed: family conflict. This type of conflict usually occurs among adult children as their parents or family members go through the aging process. Disputes can also occur between parents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousins, or others. Disagreements often stem from the stress, sadness, denial, anger, or uncertainty people often feel when their loved ones start to need help.Family conflict over aging loved ones is especially prevalent in the state of Florida, which has such a large senior population. In fact, family conflict became such an issue that the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts launched the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination. This dispute resolution process was specifically created for families experiencing conflict over the care, autonomy and safety of Florida seniors.Clearly, family conflict over aging loved ones is a real issue that impacts seniors. While it is not uncommon, it can be prevented with the proper preparation, communication, knowledge, and guidance.This article will cover several aging-related topics that can lead to family conflicts, and how to best solve or prevent these issues. After all, the best outcomes for seniors occur when there is harmony and teamwork among their adult children. Situations that Can Lead to Family ConflictProblem: Uneven balance of caregiving responsibilitiesAdult children of seniors often have to handle many matters related to their aging parents. These can include taking on the role of a family caregiver, accompanying parents to medical appointments, making healthcare decisions, managing finances, driving them to all their obligations, managing their nutritional needs, performing household maintenance and chores, and many other duties.When multiple adult children are involved, it is natural for one child to take on more of the caregiving load than the others. This is often the case when one child lives much closer to their parents than the others.But when these duties are not evenly distributed among the children, some start to develop feelings of anger or bitterness toward their siblings.Solution: When feelings of bitterness and resentment start to develop, have a civil discussion with your siblings about the issue. Rather than being accusatory, try to make a plan to solve the problem. Write out all the responsibilities required for taking care of your aging parents, and specifically delegate each duty to certain people. Make sure everyone is on board with the agreement and is assigned a role that is achievable for them. Keep the list somewhere everyone can access it, whether it be a printed copy for each family member, or even a shared Google Doc. Plan to have frequent check-in meetings to make sure everyone is doing their part and discuss any concerns that have arisen.For example, one child who lives nearby can be in charge of driving their parents to appointments, while another child who lives farther away can take on the role of managing their finances. Or, if one person is unable to physically help, perhaps they would be willing to contribute financially to help make the other childrens roles a little easier whether that be by paying for respite care, a geriatric care manager, hospice care, or another service. Problem: One sibling is being excluded from the decision-makingSometimes, one child will take over most of the decision-making for their senior parents, causing the other siblings to feel as though they are being left in the dark about these important issues. Solution: In these situations, communication is key. In a calm manner, tell your sibling how you are feeling. It could be that they are simply unaware of their actions. Or, they might have thought they were making their siblings lives easier by not involving them. Explain your point of view and that you want to be more involved in matters relating to your aging parents. From there, you can work together to make an arrangement that you are included in.Problem: Disagreements about the amount of care neededFor some people, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that their parents needs and abilities are changing. This can lead to denial or avoidance of the situation which is not only harmful for the seniors, but can also cause disagreements between adult children.In other situations, some adult children may believe their parents are able to safely age in place in their own home, while others may think senior living would be the best choice.Solution: Sometimes a professional outside opinion is all it takes for people to come to an agreement about their parents care needs. Consult your parents doctors for a professional report about their health status and changes in ability. It is also wise to contact an expert senior advisor like Florida Senior Consulting to conduct necessary assessments and make professional recommendations for the senior. A senior advisor can also help inform about all the possible options, whether that be in-home care or senior living. Along with involving outside sources, siblings can work together to research the situation at hand. For example, if the seniors are experiencing memory issues like dementia, adult children can research this topic to learn what level of care is often recommended in these situations. This method is always a good place to start and helps everyone be on the same page about their loved ones needs.Problem: Disagreements about end-of-life care and estate planningEstate planning and end-of-life care can be uncomfortable or delicate topics to discuss. Because of their complexity, these matters can often lead to disagreements among adult children.Solution: In these tricky situations, it is often best to leave the decisions up to your parents. If possible, have them choose a power of attorney and set up advance directives like a living will and health care surrogate designation before a crisis occurs. This will prevent any future conflicts that could arise among family members if these designations are not in place.If a crisis occurs and your parents do not have these documents or their estate in order, it is best to contact an elder law attorney, a financial planner that specializes in elder affairs, and possibly a family mediator to help with inheritances. These professionals can help get the situation sorted out without the risk of a conflict developing between family members.Next Steps for Adult Children to Help their Aging ParentsDont let conflicts about your aging parents tear your family apart. In difficult times, it is important for families to come together so the seniors in your life can receive the best care possible. This positive outcome is only achieved when the adult children work together as a team. After all, as Helen Keller once said, Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.If you and your family need guidance on how to best help your aging loved ones, always contact a professional. Florida Senior Consulting will help you every step of the way, from deciding the right plan for care, finding the best assisted living community, packing, moving, and everything in between.Our expert senior advisors are local to Florida and will help you and find the best care possible.Call (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to get started today.Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.
As individuals advance in age, maintaining an active social life becomes increasingly vital for their overall well-being. Socialization, often overlooked as a crucial component of health, holds profound benefits, particularly for senior citizens. While physical health receives considerable attention, the significance of social engagement cannot be understated, as it positively impacts mental, emotional, and even physical health outcomes. In this article, we delve into the manifold advantages of socialization for senior citizens and underscore its indispensable role in enhancing their quality of life.1. Mental Stimulation and Cognitive HealthEngaging in social activities stimulates cognitive function, promoting mental acuity and preserving cognitive abilities. Regular conversations, intellectual discussions, and participation in group activities challenge the mind, potentially reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Social interaction encourages seniors to stay mentally active, enhancing memory retention, problem-solving skills, and overall cognitive performance.2. Emotional Well-Being and Mood EnhancementSocialization fosters emotional support networks, offering seniors companionship, empathy, and a sense of belonging. Meaningful connections with peers alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are prevalent concerns among older adults. Sharing experiences, laughter, and emotional support with friends and acquaintances create a nurturing environment that bolsters emotional resilience and promotes a positive outlook on life. Moreover, social engagement acts as a buffer against stress, anxiety, and depression, contributing to enhanced emotional well-being.3. Physical Health and LongevitySurprisingly, socialization can have tangible effects on physical health and longevity. Active social lifestyles often correlate with healthier habits, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adherence to medical regimens. Additionally, social networks provide avenues for recreational activities such as dancing, walking groups, or sports, promoting physical fitness and mobility. Studies have shown that socially connected seniors tend to have lower rates of chronic diseases, reduced inflammation, and even enhanced immune function, leading to a longer and healthier life.4. Sense of Purpose and Meaningful EngagementMaintaining social connections gives seniors a sense of purpose and involvement in their communities. Volunteer opportunities, participation in clubs or religious organizations, and mentoring younger generations offer avenues for meaningful engagement. Contributing to society and feeling valued for their knowledge and experiences reaffirm seniors' sense of identity and self-worth. These activities imbue life with purpose beyond retirement, fostering a fulfilling and satisfying lifestyle.5. Cognitive Reserve and ResilienceSocialization contributes to the development of cognitive reservethe brain's ability to withstand neurological damage and age-related decline. By continually engaging in social interactions, seniors build cognitive resilience, enabling them to adapt to challenges and maintain mental agility as they age. The diverse cognitive stimuli provided by social engagement help preserve brain structure and function, mitigating the effects of aging and reducing the risk of cognitive impairment.ConclusionIn conclusion, socialization is not merely a recreational pursuit but an indispensable component of healthy aging for senior citizens. Its multifaceted benefits encompass mental stimulation, emotional support, physical well-being, and a sense of purpose, all of which contribute to an enhanced quality of life. Recognizing the significance of social engagement, communities and caregivers must facilitate opportunities for seniors to connect with others and participate in meaningful activities. By prioritizing socialization, we can empower older adults to lead fulfilling, vibrant lives well into their golden years.
GOOD NUTRITION IS THE FOUNDATION FOR GOOD HEALTH.A combination of proper nutrients and exercise can help prevent a variety of chronic diseases. Throughout the aging process, bone and muscle mass is lost as metabolisms change. Due to the unique nutritional needs of seniors, taking the proper measures to provide wholesome, healthy foods is key to avoiding malnutrition and disease.NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SENIORS Though seniors often have lower calorie requirements, they may need more nutrients than younger people. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from our food becomes less efficient. Creating a plan with a health professional, such as a dietician, can help seniors age with optimal nourishment.Nutrient-Dense Meals and SnacksUnderstanding the key nutrients for seniors, such as lean protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D can result in healthier plates. Whole grains and dairy products both provide a boost to a seniors daily nutrition goal. Hearty soups are popular, as they are easily chewed and can provide vegetables, protein, and grains in a single bowl.Hydration, Hydration, HydrationSome seniors begin to lose the sensation of thirst, which may lead to dehydration and difficulty digesting meals. Sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice with added sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation. Low-fat milk helps to hydrate and also provides key nutrients, such as protein, potassium, and calcium. Calorie Intake Seniors who find themselves struggling to consume enough calories each day should consider switching to full-fat milk and adding healthy fats and oils to boost calories. Nut butter and avocados are ideal and spread easily on toast or as a standalone snack. Dietary Supplements When NeededDepending on the seniors health, supplements may be recommended. One example is many seniors are prone to calcium and Vitamin D deficiency, which affects bone health. Supplements may help with deficiencies and can in the form of a daily meal-replacement shake or chewable vitamins and minerals. Focus On VarietyHealth experts encourage people of all ages to eat the rainbow. By filling a plate with diverse, colorful options, appetites increase and mealtime becomes more stimulating. Encourage variety to avoid the boredom associated with repetition.WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELPAt Celebration Villa of South Hills, we believe in providing practical tips to help ensure that our senior residents obtain proper nutrition. If unintentional weight loss has occurred, its important to visit a doctor to ensure there are no underlying medical causes. A doctor can provide a referral to a dietician, who is best equipped to build a personalized plan to promote a nourishing eating regimen tailored specifically for our residents.We understand that seniors who have recently experienced the loss of a spouse or a close friend are prone to loneliness, which can escalate to a depressive state. This makes it difficult for our seniors to cook or feed themselves, even if theyre otherwise independent. Thats why, at Celebration Villa of Teays Valley, we encourage all families to check on their loved ones. You can support them by providing healthy meals or accompanying them out to eat to encourage conversation and enjoy a hearty plate together.Within our senior living community, we provide nutritious meals each day, and there is a strong sense of social belonging built around eating together. We take great care to ensure that each resident is meeting their personal nutrition goals. Our dedicated team works closely with licensed nutritionists to create a menu of wholesome, healthy, and delicious meals that cater to the unique needs of our seniors.