As you get older it is vitally important for your emotional life to keep doing things you enjoy - going out, visiting friends, the library or shopping.
There will come a point when you start to think about stopping driving - a decision which will take a great deal of courage.
It is never too early to start planning for this moment - painful though it might be and planning for the change will make the decision less painful. All research shows that people who take a realistic long-term view adjust to the change in their life far more smoothly than those who make, or are forced to make, a sudden decision.
As you get older you may find that you are already cutting down on the number of miles you drive per week, driving less at night and keeping to familiar roads. You might also be starting to use public transport more or taking lifts from family and friends.
One aspect of giving up driving will be saving money. Vehicles are expensive to own and run, and even with the increasing cost of some public transport, money can be saved.
Alternatives to using your car
- Getting a lift from family or friends - this can also expand your social network;
- Torbay has a good network of bus and train services connecting most places in the county. Using public transport helps to protect it for the future. Why not check out just how easy it can be to get around without the car on the Traveline opens in a new window website
- Taxis - less expensive if shared;
- Walking - not a silly as it sounds - good for your health and fitness;
- Order things online - if you don’t have access to a computer you could try your local library.
Talking to a loved one about your driving concerns
Driver safety can often be a sensitive issue for seniors. A driver’s license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency.
Understandably, driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to relinquish willingly. Still, safety must come first.
Some older drivers may be aware of their faltering ability, but still be reluctant to give up driving completely. Another person’s concerns may force the senior driver to act. They may even feel relieved to have someone else help make the decision to stop driving. Some seniors may forget that they aren’t supposed to drive. If that is the case, it is even more important to remove the car or the keys to make it impossible to drive. If you find yourself in the position of talking to an older friend or family member about their driving, remember the following:
For many seniors, driving is an integral part of independence. Many older adults have fond memories of getting a driver’s license. At the same time, don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a true concern.
It’s easier to tune out generalizations like “You just can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly at stop signs three times the last time we drove.
If more than one family member or close friend has noticed, it’s less likely to be taken as nagging. A loved one may also listen to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.
The person may be so used to driving that they have never considered alternatives. You can offer concrete help, such as researching transportation options or offering rides when possible. If your family member is reluctant to ask for help, it can lead to isolation and depression.
Your loved one may experience a profound sense of loss having given up driving. Don’t dismiss their feelings but try to help with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, try slowly transitioning the senior out of driving to give them time to adjust. For example, your loved one may begin the transition by no longer driving at night or on the freeways, or by using a shuttle service to specific appointments, such as the doctor’s.