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Storied LivesStoried Lives | Keeping Older Drivers Safe | Downsizing

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Storied Lives | Keeping Older Drivers Safe | Downsizing

STORIED LIVES

Zeenie Sharif is a high school student who has made it her mission to help older men and women share their amazing life stories through her program “Storied Lives”. Suzanne sits down with Zeenie to discuss the program’s formation and the service it provides to scores of seniors.

Zeenie describes “Storied Lives” as a program for creative and service-minded high school students. Students are paired with a senior who lives in a nursing home or other elder living facility and encouraged to discuss some of the more memorable stories from the senior’s life. The student is then charged with selecting a story to write out and share with the other members of the program. One participant in the program, a high schooler by the name of Alyssa Ziobro, joins Suzanne and Zeenie to share the story she had written with her resident, Louise. In it, Alyssa recounts the tale of how Louise and her husband first met – it’s a charming story, and one that both Louise and Alyssa had a wonderful time discussing together.

When asked what her plans for the future of the “Storied Lives” program were, Zeenie said that she hopes the initiative continues for many years to come. She says that she hopes to one day be able to relay some of her life’s amazing stories to a young student looking to learn about and share in her experiences.



KEEPING OLDER DRIVERS SAFE

Driving is a privilege that affords us a great deal of independence, but as we age, getting behind the wheel can become an increasingly dangerous prospect. To ensure elderly drivers are staying safe behind the wheel, AARP has developed the “Smart Driver” course which educates participants on proper driving safety precautions and allows them to accurately assess their ability to stay on the road. Phyllis Stevenson is the District Coordinator of the AARP “Smart Driver” course as well as one of its highly-qualified instructors. She says that there are many things about driving that have changed over the years and, until recently, there have been very few resources to educate elderly drivers on these developments.

The AARP “Smart Driver” course is a two day course designed for people age 50 and older. It takes place entirely in a classroom environment; there are no tests, and there is no danger of failing the course. Phyllis says, “The course is not designed to tell you to stop driving, it simply allows you to recognize if you’re still safe as you drive.” Phyllis shares some helpful tips for older drivers. The most important thing to ask yourself when getting behind the wheel, Phyllis says, is “Am I fit to drive today?” Being honest with yourself about your ability to safely navigate your vehicle is the first and most important step to keeping you and others safe on the road.

Other tips include:

  • Drivers should position themselves at least 10-12 inches from the steering wheel to minimize the risk of injury should the airbags be deployed.
  • Mirrors should be adjusted to reduce blind spots on either side of the vehicle.
  • Drivers should always be positioned so that they can easily place their foot square on the brake and accelerator.
  • Drivers should keep a “four second following distance” between them and the car ahead to ensure they have enough time to react should the car in front of them suddenly stop.

 

In addition to these helpful tips, Phyllis also details what items every driver should keep in their car in case of an emergency. They are:

  • Spare Tire
  • Jack and Lug Wrench
  • Flashlight
  • Flares or Reflective Day/Night Warning Signs (In case of a break down)
  • Jumper Cables

At the end of the course, every students fills out a questionnaire designed to help them assess how safe they feel operating a vehicle. Phyllis hopes that the course will help to spread an awareness of the effect aging has on driving as well as keep her students safe behind the wheel.


DOWNSIZING

Ever wish you could feel young again?  Suzanne talks with Dr. Judith Sills who says she’s found the Fountain of Youth – downsizing!

Judith once lived in a huge 6,000 square foot home, but once her children had all moved out, found herself occupying it alone. Tired of the hassles that such a large amount of space brings, Judith decided to downsize to a much smaller apartment, and was instantly delighted by the results. In addition to having a much more manageable and easily cleaned living area, Judith also enjoyed a surge of new energy. This transformation, Judith believes, was due in part to the process of purging much of her old stuff, in order to make arrangements for living in the more limited space. By honestly evaluating what she still needed and what she did not, she was able to focus in on the life she wanted for herself moving forward, and determine which items would be a part of that next stage.

Judith says that downsizing is a physical manifestation of life changing and you making a conscious effort to take an active role in that change. You’re bound to regret throwing some things out and wish you had gotten rid of other items that you kept; the point isn’t to worry about making this transition flawlessly, it’s to start taking positive action toward crafting a simpler and more fulfilling life.

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