DeAnn Owens
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How Senior Drivers Can Keep Skills Strong

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senior driver

If you’re like many Americans are driving less due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your skills are getting a bit rusty. If you’re worried you’re losing your edge behind the wheel, consider these tips to help strengthen your driving skills when you’re driving less.

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Stay active

With winter on the horizon, staying active is difficult any year, but during a pandemic, it’s even harder. But, focusing on your physical health, flexibility, and mobility is vital to your strength behind the wheel.

Sandi Peters, gerontology specialist, Susie Touchinsky, occupational therapy certified driver rehabilitation specialist and owner of Adaptive Mobility Services LLC in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, Keith McWilliams, doctor of occupational therapy at the for-profit University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences’ Dallas campus in Irving, Texas, and the AARP suggest participating in online classes focusing on yoga, tai chi, and other movement techniques. You can also find 10-minute videos on AARP’s site to help activate your muscles.

“In terms of what you can do on your own, studies have found that cardiovascular exercise can slow cognitive decline, and that strength and flexibility programs can improve senior performance on driving metrics like neck rotation and response speed,” according to Consumer Reports writer Michael Tortorello.

Play a game

You might think that playing video games is just for kids, but they can actually help you with your driving, according to Peters, Touchinsky, McWilliams, and AARP. You can even download the app, Drive with Focus, to practice your skills, they add.

Have a professional assess your driving

If you want to get a comprehensive assessment of your driving skills, your strengths and weaknesses behind the wheel, Tortorello suggests working with a professional.

“Senior drivers may also benefit from working with a driver rehabilitation specialist, a person trained to assess a driver’s abilities and recommend practical retraining, adaptive devices, and sensible driving restrictions. In shorthand, an occupational therapist with wheels,” he writes.

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Even though you may not be logging as many miles behind the wheel as before, there’s no reason for your skills to deteriorate.