John Wenzlau and Millie Oakeson

As we age, the fear of losing our independence is huge. Giving up the car keys and dealing with memory loss means just that; the need to rely on others. These topics are why radio hosts John Wenzlau and Millie Oakeson bring expert guests to their weekly radio show “Successful Aging” on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX. This past week, they spoke with the COO of DrivingMBA Maria Wojtczak on driving assessments and Dr. Linda Sasser on memory and aging.

DrivingMBA uses a combination of simulation labs, classroom and on-road instruction for novice drivers as well as experienced drivers. It offers a two-hour assessment for older drivers when a family member or doctor feels it may be time to give up driving.

“The results vary and there are times when the driver just needs a refresher course on safe driving tips, and other times when the driver or family member realizes it is time to retire the keys,” Wojtczak said.

DrivingMBA helps facilitate tough conversations between family members and the older driver when the assessment shows it’s time to give up the keys.

“Our employees are empathetic and understand how delicate this subject is, and discuss alternative options with the family,” Wojtczak said.

She stressed the importance of having conversations early and having a plan in place before it’s time to stop driving. If you or a loved one think you may need to have an assessment, you call 480-948-1648 or go to www.drivingmba.com and DrivingMBA will help navigate the delicate journey.

As we age, most of us fear losing our cognitive abilities. After all, our memories are the biggest reminder of the life we’ve lived. Over the age of 50, we have a few more glitches in memory. Attention can’t be attained as easily as when we were younger for several reasons … vision and hearing loss along with stress, anxiety and depression. Those factors can impact our ability to form memories.

“The processes of memory are encoding, storing and retrieving,” Sasser said.

As we age, we need to work at those processes a bit harder than we did when we were young. There are tricks to help with that. Sasser uses the mnemonic enhancer PAVE. P: Pay attention, A: Associate (try to connect to something familiar), V: Visualize, E: Elaborate. In other words, memory can be enhanced by working at it and making a genuine effort to listen and pay attention.

There is hope in the fact that we can improve our memory-making abilities by getting sleep, exercising, eating nutritious foods and lowering our stress. Sasser has published BE! Brain Enrichment, a curriculum to help people learn about brain health and improve memory and other cognitive skills. For more information, visit www.brainandmemoryhealth.com.

For more information on these topics or to ask a question, visit www.successfulaging.info. Tune in from 11 a.m. to noon every Tuesday to Independent Talk KFNX 1100 as we continue to explore “Successful Aging.”