· Stiff upper body: If you have difficulty looking over your shoulder to back up or merge into traffic, look for vehicles with a large rear window for better visibility, wide-angle mirrors that can minimize blind spots, back-up cameras, active parallel park assistance and blind-spot warning systems that alert you to objects in the way. Also, for comfort and fit, consider vehicles that have a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, adjustable seatbelts and heated seats with lumbar support.
· Arthritic hands: For easier use, four-door vehicles are recommended because the doors are smaller, lighter and easier to open and close than two-door models. And to help with painful gripping and turning problems, look for keyless entry and a push-button ignition, a thicker steering wheel, power mirrors and seats, and a sliding channel gear selector.
· Diminished vision: Drivers with vision loss due to cataracts, glaucoma or some other condition will find vehicles with larger instrument panels and dashboard controls with contrasting text easier to see and manipulate. And those with sensitivity to glare will benefit from extendable sun visors, auto-dimming rearview mirror and glare reducing side mirrors.
Smart Features resource: To access the “Smart Features for Older Drivers” resource, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures and use their online tool that lets you choose the age-friendly features you want in a vehicle, and the tool will identify the makes and models that best fit your needs.
Or, if you don’t have internet access call your AAA (call 800-222-4357 to get your local number) and ask them to mail you free copy of the “Smart Features for Older Drivers” brochure. You don’t have to be a AAA member to get this free publication.
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.