auto

4 car features that help senior citizens

Tara Baukus MelloWith much of America's baby boomer population officially having senior citizen status, there are more drivers with cars that lack features to help counter issues associated with aging, such as arthritis, lack of flexibility and diminished vision. Fortunately, today's cars have many features that can make driving easier and more comfortable for seniors. Look for these four features in your next car.

Power-adjustable seat heights. Seat bottoms that go up, down, forward and backward are useful for aging drivers who become less flexible. Raising the seat bottom means less bending is required to get in and out of the car. Seat bottoms that also tilt can increase the comfort level for those with hip problems and allow more adjustment during long drives when being in one position can be uncomfortable.

Backup cameras. Neck problems or decreased range of motion can make it hard for drivers to turn around when driving in reverse. Small backup cameras are mounted in the rear of the car to project what is behind the car on a screen in the dashboard. While it doesn't entirely eliminate the need to turn around, it provides added confidence to drivers they will not have a car accident because they couldn't see an obstacle behind them.

Displays that offer a choice of colors. Many seniors have diminished vision, particularly at night, and can find it hard to read the speedometer or other gauges and controls. Many of today's cars have adjustable displays, including high-contrast colors that help seniors see.

Larger controls. Decreased flexibility and even arthritis can occur in hands, making operation of the heat, air conditioning, audio system and other controls difficult and even painful. Controls with larger knobs or touch-sensitive controls similar to a smartphone can be easier for arthritic fingers to operate with minimal effort.

The good news is that there is a wide variety of cars on the market that are both new and nearly new with these features in a wide range of body styles and prices to suit most tastes and budgets.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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