Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend any products that can help older drivers with their vehicles? My 84-year-old mother is still a pretty good driver, but she has arthritis, which limits her range of motion and hinders her driving.
To help keep older drivers safe and extend their driving years, there are a number of affordable products you can purchase today that can easily be added to your mom's vehicle to help with many different needs. Here are several to consider.
ENTRY & EXIT
If your mom's limited range of motion is hampering her ability to get into and out of her vehicle, consider these products:
• Standers Metro Car Handle: This is a small portable support handle that inserts into the U-shaped striker plate on the doorframe that helps with getting out of a car.
• CarCaddie: This is a nylon strap handle that hooks around the top of the door window frame for entry and exiting help.
• Swivel Seat Cushion: A round portable cushion that turns 360 degrees to help drivers and passengers rotate their body into and out of their vehicle.
If your mom has a difficult time looking over her shoulder to back-up or merge into traffic, or struggles with sensitivity to glare, these products can help.
• AllView Mirror: This is an oversized rearview mirror that attaches to the existing rear view mirror to widen her rear visibility and eliminate blind spots so your mom can see traffic without significant neck or body rotation. It also helps during parking.
• Blind Spot Mirrors: These are small convex mirrors that stick to the corner of the side view mirrors to improve side and rear vision.
• Backup Camera: To eliminate blind spots and avoid turning around when backing up, this device (which costs around $100) comes with a wireless night vision camera that attaches to the license plate and a small monitor that mounts to the dash or windshield.
• Sun Zapper Glare Shield: This plastic tinted visor clips on to the existing sun visor to remove sun glare without obstructing vision. It also has a special sliding shield that lets you block extra-bright glare spots.
If your mom's arthritis makes turning the ignition key, twisting open the gas cap or gripping the steering wheel difficult and painful, consider these devices:
• Key Turner: This is a small plastic handle that attaches to the car keys to provide additional leverage, making it easier to turn the key in the ignition or door.
• Gas Cap Removal Tool: To help at the pump this long handled device works like a wrench to make loosening and tightening the gas cap much easier and it fits most gas caps.
• Steering Wheel Cover: It fits over the steering wheel to make it larger in size and easier to grip.
If your mom has shrunk a little over the years to the point she needs help seeing over the steering wheel or reaching the pedals, consider a "wedge seat cushion," which is an orthopedic cushion that supports the back and elevates her a few inches. Or, "foot pedal extensions," (see pedalextenders.net, drive-master.com or summiteasy.com) that allow her to reach the pedals while keeping her 10-to-12-inches from the steering wheel.
SEAT BELT AIDS
The "Easy Reach Seat Belt Handle" is a six-inch rubber extension handle that attaches to the seat belt strap to make it easier to reach for seniors with mobility loss. And a "seat belt shoulder pad" that fits around the shoulder strap protects the neck and shoulder from rubbing and chafing.
WHERE TO BUY
All of these items (except the pedal extensions and backup camera) cost under $50, and can be found online at amazon.com. Type the product name in the search bar to get a variety of options.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.