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Colonie gives older drivers resources

Several entities have combined forces in the Town of Colonie to help senior citizens stay safely on the roads for as long as they are physically able.

Colonie Senior Service Centers unveiled a driver fitness center Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Beltrone Living Center, geared to provide support and information to seniors who would like to continue to operate a motor vehicle but are afraid that the limitations they face as their bodies age could prevent them from doing so.

The fitness center allows seniors to access driving information and support at a location where they feel comfortable. In addition, the center will provide CarFit, a program that helps seniors determine whether they are fitting in their motor vehicle properly.

Some of these limitations, according to Ed Neary, executive director of Colonie Senior Service Centers, Inc., include vision loss that prevents them from seeing far distances, and arthritis that prevents them from turning the steering wheel all the way.

We got involved because we started thinking about ways that we can help with transportation, said Neary of the collaboration between Colonie Senior Service Centers and the Capital Region Older Driver's Assistance Network -- the organization that brought a lot of the information to the driver fitness center.

Rory Fluman, occupational therapist/certified driving rehab specialist and project coordinator for the assistance network, said it is important for seniors to consider their health and abilities before stepping into the driver's seat of a vehicle, and that resources like the driver's fitness center can help.

"Ed Neary's driver fitness center really is a host of resources for people to look at their health and look at their driving," said Fluman. "It will provide traffic safety -- not just for the senior, but for everyone in the community."

Fluman said that if a person is having trouble with his or her health, such as issues with vision, it might not necessarily mean that they should no longer be driving. If their health issues can be fixed, they could be able to drive longer and more safely.

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