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Car Buying Tips for Older Drivers

When I think of my parents, I still see them as they were when they were my age. Mid-thirties with young kids, full of energy and life. Both of my parents are turning sixty this year, and while sixty is hardly old, it's hard for me to believe that they are already that age. My husband and I are in our thirties, and wake up every day with new hurts and ailments. We realize that our bodies aren't what they were ten years ago, and we're getting older. We can't turn back the hands of time, and within the next 15-20 years, our parents may start relying on us more than they ever have before.

I like to be prepared and one step ahead when it comes to planning, so I have been doing a little bit of research on how to best help aging parents with things like buying cars and moving into smaller, more suitable homes. Both of my parents have their share of health issues. Neither of their issues affects their mobility, but occasionally, they do have ailment flare-ups, which make it harder for them drive long distances, etc. Helping aging parents find reliable, safe, comfortable vehicles can be daunting, but there's a proper way to offer help and advice without patronizing.

The best way to go about offering help to aging parents who are looking for a newer vehicle is to just sort of be their sidekick during the process. They probably don't need you to be an advocate for them yet, so just being there to help them research cars, making sure they aren't being taken advantage of, or just being an extra pair of ears/eyes during the process will be a great help to them.

If they are shopping online before heading to a lot, this is where your help could really come in handy. A lot of seniors know how to navigate websites, but with ever-changing technology and social media, it may ease any frustrations that pop up if you're there to answer any questions they may have. Many dealerships offer live chat services, which may make older parents uncomfortable. You can help set their minds at ease by offering to man the chat, showing them how easy it is to use, and helping them opt out of it if they feel uncomfortable at any point in time.

Help them keep a list of wants/needs in their new vehicle. Something easy to get in/out of will probably be very helpful. Consider the person's height as well- do they like to sit up high, or do they like to be a little closer to the ground so they can feel the road as they drive? Are they looking for a luxury vehicle with a lot of added features, or just something basic and safe?

Identify features that will aid any physical issues the driver may be experiencing. For instance, if there are hip or knee problems, look for a vehicle with adjustable seating, and easy entry. Having to stoop/bend or climb too high to get into the vehicle could result in an injury. For shoulder/back/neck problems, a feature as simple as a back-up camera could really come in handy. If the driver deals with arthritis, helpful features include auto-locks, auto door closures, and keyless entry.

While no manufacturer makes vehicles specifically geared toward seniors, there are certainly many senior-friendly vehicles on the market today. Making sure that the features you want or need are offered is the first step. Taking multiple test drives will help your aging parents get a true feel for the vehicle and help them feel comfortable when they're ready to make their purchase.

Brought to you by Sunset Kia of Auburn

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