As we age and reach our senior years, our health will decline, and our vision is among the first of the senses to become impaired. While many people can continue to drive until they reach their 80s or 90s, others have to face the reality of giving up their licenses sooner. This is becoming known as “driving retirement,” and it’s an issue that we all have to eventually face.
No one wants to deal with the concept of having to give up their driver’s license, which is why many seniors resist it until they’re compelled to give up their licenses. In rare cases, seniors drive until a court or the Department of Motor Vehicles takes an official action by either revoking the license or declining to renew it. More commonly, a senior’s family members will convince them to give up driving before they do get into a serious accident. This isn’t an easy conversation to have and it can lead to family disputes, but it’s important to face this issue before it leads to a tragedy.
Depending on where a senior lives, their driving retirement may lead to unexpected mental health problems. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently completed a study with Columbia University, which found the rate of depression was doubled among seniors who gave up their driving privileges versus those seniors who continued to drive. The loss of freedom that driving provides combined with more limited access to stores, doctors, and other essentials affected the ability of seniors to maintain healthy relationships and interactions with those outside the home. While ridesharing services, such as Uber, can restore some of that mobility, seniors still feel limited without access to a vehicle of their own.
Taking these issues into consideration, it’s important for families to plan out an elder parent’s driving retirement well in advance. When you can plan for that individual’s transportation needs and help them be as mobile as possible, their driving retirement will only seem like a minor inconvenience. In time, they’ll adapt to life without a driver’s license and find that they can be just as free by making use of the other opportunities open to them. Additionally, they won’t feel the added stress that driving in heavy traffic and risking an accident represents.