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Unstoppable

Regardless of how hard we try, we cannot stop the aging process. Some might call this the maturation process, but not all of us grow up as we age. We can stop counting birthdays, but we still continue to get older. Pills, herbs, creams and enzymes may seem to delay it, but they still won't stop the progression. From the day we are born we are headed toward impending antiquity.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, there was a 21.1% increase in the 62 and older population in America. As we continue to change calendars, we begin to notice some changes in our bodies. We may no longer see that strapping 16 year-old we used to see in the mirror. The reflection we see may well be different than that pretty teenage girl that used to look back at us. In fact, some of us might need glasses to see any image at all.

Maybe we started needing reading glasses to clearly see what was displayed on our computer screen. Eventually we may have found it necessary to wear glasses or contacts all the time; at least when we wanted to see. Then we may have gone to bifocals so we could see and read. Perhaps we have even succumbed to the fact that trifocals are our only choice any more.

Itís not unusual for some of us to find it more difficult to hear what people are saying, especially in social settings with a lot of background noise. Hearing loss tends to sneak in so gradually that we may not even recognize that itís causing us a problem until we start fighting over the volume of the TV. Unfortunately we may also find that our reactions and flexibility have decreased with age, too.

So what does all this mean to us? If we canít stop the process, whatís the big deal? Well we get the majority of our information the sight and sound as weíre riding. If we donít see the car approaching the intersection from the left because our peripheral vision has been reduced, that could be a problem. Missing the movement to our right might mean we donít see the animal heading for the road in front of us. Not hearing that SUV creep up on us in the next lane could be trouble if itís in our blind spot.

If we donít recognize a potential problem, how can we deal with it? Once we see or hear the hazard, we still need to process it to determine if and what we need to do . about it. Thatís part of reacting to the situation. After weíve figured out what to do, we still need to execute that decision. Reaching for the brakes, rolling on or off the throttle or moving quickly to one side or the other must often be done quickly. Our slower reactions might require more time for us to follow through in avoiding the peril facing us.

Giving ourselves a little more time and space in which to perform these actions might help us compensate for some of the effects we experience as we add years to our life. The extra space between us and the vehicle ahead provides a better field of view so we can more readily see possible hazards. Extra time can give our mind and body the ability to process and react to the event before it is too late.

We may not be able to stop the aging process, but we can reduce its affects on us by using a less assertive riding style and scanning for problems more aggressively. The choice is ours.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!

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