Despite many people’s assumptions, growing older doesn’t mean that you’re no longer able to drive safely. However, at a certain point it’s a subject you’ll need to think about. There are several questions you should pose to yourself. Let’s go over them so that you can prepare for the future while easing your mind about this important subject.
How important is driving to you? First and foremost, you need to assess whether or not this is a big deal for you. Many seniors don’t care to drive very often, for a multitude of reasons, and so aren’t too concerned about the day they’ll need to give it up completely. It’s more common, though, that the thought of being unable to drive oneself around is distressing to some degree. This can be seen as one of the last vestiges of one’s independence. Without the ability to drive, you become more dependent on others. By examining your feelings, you can begin to emotionally and mentally prepare for this.
If you were unable to drive anymore, what would be your plan? Another crucial step in allaying your fears is having a plan. It’s helpful to include your family in this discussion. Very likely, they’ll play a part in helping you get around. They can also assist you in finding transportation services. You might be surprised at the variety of choices available to you. Here are just a couple options.
Even before you reach the point of being unable to drive, you might enjoy taking advantage of errand services. Someone can be hired, whether independently or through an agency, to pick you up and take you to places like the doctor and the grocery store. They can use your car or their own. This is a really convenient and often quite affordable option. They can be hired for regular events or simply as things arise. It’s also a good way to ease into a life of less driving.
A popular service is paratransit. Public transit, non-profit aging organizations such as Seniors First (see the resource page for contact information), and private agencies provide door-to-door or curb-to-curb transportation using mini-buses or small vans (vehicles for less than 25 passengers). Paratransit service often requires users to make advanced reservations but still offers a degree of flexibility and personalization in scheduling. Curb-to-curb service provides for passenger pick up and delivery at the curb or roadside; door-to-door service offers a higher level of assistance by picking up passengers at the door of their homes and delivering them to the doors of their destinations. Paratransit and van services offer reduced fares for older adults and persons with disabilities, and some providers may operate on a donation basis.
If your adult children are going to be helping you out, then developing a schedule is a must. Open communication will prevent misunderstandings. Your family will have their own daily concerns: work, time with their spouses and children, and certain responsibilities. It will take coordination to make it work. Most seniors end up using a combination of outside services and family help.
What issues will affect your ability to drive independently? With age comes medical issues, many of which will greatly affect your driving skills. You have to be honest with yourself. Do you have any eye or hearing problems? It’s dangerous to ignore the possibility that these are hindering your safe driving. Cataracts, hearing loss, and reduced reflex times should be taken into account. Talk to your doctor openly and honestly. They’ll help you determine what your best course of action is.
Addressing the possibility of losing your ability to drive is understandably difficult. With emotional and practical support from family and friends, you can successfully accept this eventuality, while focusing on what you can do in the here and now. A positive attitude will go a long way!