Seniors Giving Up Driving

I have written a number of posts in this blog on the issue of seniors and driving.  It is such an important and sensitive issue for elders and their families and other loved ones.  I was happy to see the Sunrise Senior Living Blog take up the issue, as well, talking with AAA about it.

The blog post refers to some not-very-surprising statistics:

A recent survey by AAA found that many seniors take issue with the fact that they’ll have to give up driving one day – in fact, 90 percent said it would be a “problem” for them to stop driving, with more than half categorizing it as a “serious problem.” However, statistics show that the caregivers’ fears are well-founded. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a marked increase in traffic fatalities once a driver turns 75, and a recent study by the transportation research group TRIP found that senior traffic deaths were on the rise in recent years.

The quote, above, however, focuses on the issue of mobility as a problem to be solved.  However, in our experience, as a provider of elder care and home care services, the issue is not limited to questions of how I will get from here to there and back. 

Rather, driving is perceived by most of us, including seniors, as an attribute of our freedom, our adulthood.  The idea of losing the driving privilege is a very emotional issue, not simply a logistical one.

Sunrise Senior Living’s response is a pragmatic one — assisted living facilities can provide transportation.  Well, yes, they can, as can home care agencies.  However, unless we address the sense of loss that the vast majority of seniors feel when they can no longer drive, the pragmatic answer is only a partial one.

One recommendation we do have is to begin the planning process for aging, early.  Our free tool, the Advance Living Directive(c), can help with that planning, in an objective, non-emotional way.

Any ideas you have are welcome.

Best wishes.  Bert


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