Category Archives: NCPC Monthly Articles
Every senior dreads the day they lose their independence by having to give up their driver’s license. The safety of the driver and the community may be at stake. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard. There are alternatives to driving to make the transition easier.
Reasons to give up a driver’s license
- Having issues seeing.
- Have prescription lenses? Make sure they are up to date before you make this decision. Consulting an optometrist about your vision is vital. If you don’t wear corrective lenses, they may encourage you to do so. An optometrist may also find other ocular issues, such as cataracts or glaucoma.
- Cannot see clearly at night, you may only need to restrict your driving to during the day.
- Having trouble focusing on the road. A doctor may recommend other alternatives such as prescriptions.
- Response Time
- Response time is delayed consistently for long enough to cause issues.
- Having issues hearing.
- Have a hearing aid? Get it checked to make sure it’s tuned correctly and the batteries are working well. If you don’t wear a hearing aid, you may consider looking into it.
- Visit a doctor about your hearing issues. Other alternatives, such as wax blockage may be the reason you are having hearing issues.
- Tremors or Limb Weakness
- Have tremors or weakness in your limbs. This may impair your ability to stop or control the car safely.
- Prescription Medication
- Take regular prescription medication that may impair your judgement, cause drowsiness or hallucinate.
- Visit a doctor. There may be medication alternatives.
Signs it’s time to let go
- Drifting into other lanes
- Unable to merge
- Increase in dents or dings in your vehicle
- Increase in traffic incidences
- Inability to properly judge how much space you need to brake
- Unable to see the lines in the road
- Increased fear
- Trouble pushing the gas or brakes
- Trouble turning the steering wheel
- Having more “close calls” than you did when you were younger
- Collisions with non-moving objects (sings, barriers, mailboxes, parked vehicles)
How to surrender your driver’s license
This can be done at your local DMV. However, you will need a State Issued ID for other purposes. Your local DMV Driver’s License division may require you to make an appointment.
Remember to have someone take you, as when you leave you shouldn’t drive as you no longer will have a valid license.
Benefits of Giving Up Your License
The obvious benefit to giving up your driver’s license is driver and community safety. However, many people don’t realize how much it actually cost to have a vehicle. When you’re on a fixed income after retirement, some welcome the much needed savings.
According to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study, an average vehicle driven up to 15,000 miles a year costs $8,398. This cost includes things such as fuel, tires, maintenance and repairs, taxes, license, registration fees, insurance premiums, depreciation, interest/financing.
Depending on your driving record, your vehicle size, how often you drive it, your costs can be higher than the average noted in the AAA study. The cost broken down is about $725 a month, what could you do with that extra money in your account?
So what can be done if driving is no longer an option?
- Public Transportation
- Buses. Every major and even most smaller cities have buses. Libraries and local city buildings usually carry schedules.
- Taxis. This is more readily available in larger cities. Smaller cities usually have taxi services, you just have to call for a pickup.
- Much like a taxi service, you have transportation at the palm of your hand with these apps for your smart phone.
- Most car rides are things down the street. Why not walk instead.
- This is a low cost option for anyone who needs to go out. Tricycle offer more stability than tradition bicycles and are usually free standing. Tricycles also can accommodate a larger basket size so you can take your pet with you or tote around groceries.
- Many cities offer a paratransit option. This means if you are unable to drive due to disability, you can get picked up and dropped off for a small fee. You will need to call your local transportation office to see if you qualify and set it up.
- Golf Carts
- Smaller towns or private communities often allow you to use golf carts or atvs to get around in town. The benefit to this is most of them drive at a much slower pace. Some states will require you to have a license whether you are on public or private roads, you should ask when you are at the DMV. Check with your local police or city for rules.
- Transportation Services
- Most counties area on aging and senior centers can recommend transportation services for specific needs. You can find their number online, most city offices will have this information as well.
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck
Before I get started, let me say I am not the healthiest eater, I am not perfect, my parents didn’t teach me proper eating nor to this day do they know themselves. I do try my best to avoid certain foods, gummy bears seemingly to be the exception and I’ve come to terms with this guilty pleasure and don’t even walk down that isle in the grocery store. I had to change the way I ate from a traditional American diet, to a more natural diet because I was starting to get sick. Not just a little sick, a lot of sick, sick in places I only heard of and thought was fake, like my THYROID. This started a conversation with my Grandmother, who told me everything she had wrong with her and I began to realize I was staring at my scary future. This prompted a change in my eating. So here is a list of the worst foods to eat, many of us eat these foods daily, some of which you may not know can be really bad for you.
- Microwave Popcorn. Yes, I do love to suck the butter residue on my finger tips during a thrilling home movie with the family. However microwave popcorn is filled with chemicals especially a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid ( PFOA) which is lined to infertility in women. If you’re not worried about fertility, it also increases the risk of kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas and testicular cancers.  Try air popped popcorn instead and melt your own butter (not margarine) or add garlic powder for flavor, you’ll thank me later!
- Non-organic fruits & veggies. Pesticides can cause all sorts of issues. Washing these don’t necessarily remove 100 percent of pesticides. I clean my fruits and vegetables by spraying vinegar on them, letting them sit for a few minutes, rinsing then I flip them and repeat. I notice this removes some of the waxy residue on the fruits and veggies themselves. Overall, buying organic is better. With the increase in availability of organic foods, prices have become more reasonable.
- Canned fruits & veggies. The wax lining of canned foods are made with a chemical call BPA, which has been blown up recently by the media as being bad for you, with good reason. You’ll see on many plastics sold in stores BPA free. Additional canned fruits & veggies are packed with added sugars and sodium and lack the nutritional value of fresh or frozen fruits & veggies. The sooner you consume fruits & veggies from the time they are picked, the more nutritionally dense they are. Frozen fruits & veggies are frozen at their peak and lose nutritional value more slowly than those that are canned, the bags are also easier to open, especially for the elderly.
- Processed Meats & Cheeses. Such a disappointment to hear considering I LOVE pepperoni. Processed meats are full of excessive sodium and possible chemicals for preservation and coloring. These include sausage, hot dogs, bacon, American cheese and lunch meats such as bologna or pimento loaf. Consider eating items such as turkey bacon, sliced turkey or ham. 
- Farmed Fish. Farmed fish are fed unnatural diets that may be contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides and growth hormones. Farmed fish also lack the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acids that wild fish contain.
- Potato Chips. High in fat, sodium, calories and low in nutritional value, this is obviously a bad choice for those who are health conscious. Love the flavor? Me too! Try an alternative, baked potato chips. Better yet, skip potato chips altogether.
- Bad cooking oil. I used the word bad because there are actually good cooking oils. Bad: Vegetable Oil; Canola Oil; Margarine. Good Cooking Oil: Coconut Oil; Extra Virgin Olive Oil; Real Butter. Bad cooking oil contains an excess of Omega-6 fatty acids. 
- Pickled Foods. High in sodium.
- Table Salt. Once again high in sodium. Try instead sea salt, which not only is high in sodium and full of flavor, also contains other vitamins and minerals. Himalayan sea salt is the best version and is becoming increasingly more available. Use sparingly.
- Smoked Foods. Smoking foods results in the absorption of tar that smoke produces which makes smoked meats and nuts high in fat and salt. Sadly, this includes bbq. Instead, bake the meat then add bbq sauce later.
- Cured Foods. We aren’t pirates and no longer need to cure foods for preservation. Though they taste good that’s because they are packed full of sodium and coloring. Fresh is best.
- White Flour. This includes it’s ugly friend white bread and other items such as boxed cake mix. We have all heard that white flour is bleached, I’m not exactly sure what that means but I know white flour is highly processed removing most of the natural nutrients. White flour is highly processed. This means white flour has a high glycemic rate, which means it quickly raises the blood sugar level and insulin levels. 
- Genetically modified organisms is science talk for food that’s been messed with at the cellular level. Though these may not be easy to spot, it’s best to stay away from GMOs. “In a study done by Dr. Pusztai at the Rowett Institute in Scotland, rats were fed GMO foods, especially potatoes. ALL rats showed damaged immune systems, pre-cancerous cell growths, along with smaller brains and livers, in just the first 10 days of the project.”  Here is a list of the top 10 GMO foods to avoid: http://www.nationofchange.org/top-10-gmo-foods-avoid-1343568178
- I will always love my gummy bears, but I know that they are bad for me. So instead of eating a whole bag, I take a few, put the bag away and pretend those few are way more than they really are. We’ve been warned over and over how bad sugar is. Need an alternative, try eating a fruit, fruit is also high in sugar but a more natural sugar, of course don’t overload, sugar is still sugar. Additionally if you need sugar, try Stevia, which is made from a plant and sweeter than actual sugar itself.
- Not really sugar, sugar. Artificial sweeteners may be calorie free, but are full of chemicals which are worse than actual sugar. Once again, try Stevia.
- Anything low fat, fat free or diet. Most of the time these phrases mean that the foods have been “edited” to reduce calories or fat by adding undesirable chemicals, products or sweeteners. The best low fat and diet food, is actually food, it’s called fruits & veggies.
- Excessive drinking is bad for you. Drinking a glass of wine or having one cocktail is not a big deal, having more can cause so many other issues later down the road. Consider what is in your drink, many cocktails are made with syrups with an excess of sugars.
- Red Meat. Red meat in small, infrequent amounts is good for you. “..in a study done over a 10 year period, eating red meat every day, even a small amount, such as that quarter pound hamburger you like to enjoy at lunch, increased a man’s risk of dying from cancer by 22 percent and a woman’s chance by 20 percent. A separate research study has shown that eating a lot of red meat increased the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer.” 
- Full of sugar. This is a huge no-no. “Soda is often the root cause of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, which is when the contents of the stomach leak into the esophagus causing not only pain but an actual burning of the esophagus from stomach acid.” 
- Diet Soda. This really falls into both #15 & #16. Avoid diet soda.
- Non-organic dressing is filled with oils, which can be genetically engineered, they can be high in high-fructose ingredients and even contain paint chemicals. 
- Not really coffee itself, but of course the additives of coffee, often sugar or artificial sugar. I noticed that one lunch, I had 4 cups of coffee which contained 4 of those individual servings of half & half and of course 8 packets of sugar. 8 whole packets of sugar for one meal. It’s okay to have your coffee black.
Eat better because we don’t want to lose our readers to bad health. Like I always say (for the purpose of this blog), “tis better to die of a worthy cause rather than because you ate something you don’t remember.” Remember three gummy bears taste just as good as a whole bag, chew slowly!
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck