As teenagers, most of us couldn’t wait to get our driver’s licenses. We longed to possess that all-important document, that symbol of independence and freedom. Now that many of us have earned the status of “seasoned driver,” it’s tough to think of giving up our prized licenses. But for a growing number of seniors, it’s a reality that needs to be addressed.
As the National Center on Senior Transportation puts it:
“Family caregivers, and many older adults” … are concerned about aging drivers, their passengers, other drivers and their passengers, and pedestrians. “As drivers age, certain considerations need to be made about the skills and safety of senior drivers. Driving abilities can decrease because of … vision loss, hearing impairment, poor reflexes and medical conditions.”
If you are dealing with any of the above-mentioned health issues, it could be time for you to give up your license. That’s a conclusion millions of older Americans have already reached, and many others will do so soon.
In 2013, said AARP, “More than 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older don’t drive, according to an analysis of the federal government’s National Household Travel Survey by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Soon, even more people will be clamoring for rides as the country’s 78 million boomers … shed their car keys.”
Giving up your driver’s license doesn’t necessarily mean you are relegated to life as a shut-in. Although they vary by state, transportation options are available. Alternatives include Assisted Transportation, Public Transportation and Taxis.
As the National Center on Senior Transportation notes, these ride programs help seniors with mobility limitations to make it to and from their cars; escort cognitively impaired seniors to and from medical appointments; and accompany seniors to grocery stores and help them reach items on high shelves and carry bags.
For seniors who live in communities with a well-established network of buses, subways and trains, public transportation is a viable option. Unlike assisted transportation or taxis, public transportation doesn’t provide curb-to-curb service or tailored scheduling. However, in most cases, it is the most affordable method of transport – especially since many, if not all, public transportation systems provide discounts to their senior riders.
One of the most convenient transportation options, taxis provide curb-to-curb service that usually doesn’t require advanced scheduling on the part of the rider. If used frequently, the cost may seem prohibitive; however, seniors should also consider the expense of fueling, insuring and maintaining a personal vehicle. To reduce taxi costs, seniors can share rides with family members or neighbors. In some cases, lower-cost vouchers are available for seniors.
It’s natural to view a driver’s license as the ultimate form of freedom and independence. Freedom and independence will always be important. As time passes, however, mobility – in the safest form that best suits your needs and budget – becomes paramount. Take the time to explore your options to remain mobile.
For more information on ways to stay active in retirement, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Stay Active in Retirement.
Photo courtesy of: National Center on Senior Transportation