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Kendal at Home Blog

Living Independently: Time to Hang up Your Keys?

Posted by Lynne Giacobbe on April 23, 2012 at 8:46 AM

older adults drivingThe decision to stop driving can cause you to experience many emotions, including anger and loss of power. Driving does offer independence, and not being able to transport yourself may cause you to rely on others for help. If it were up to you, you might choose to drive forever. But how do you determine when it is time to surrender your keys?

Part of being independent is being able to realize when you are no longer able to complete tasks safely. Making the choice to stop driving in your own time allows you to keep your independence.

Age itself does not determine your ability to drive, as everyone ages differently. You may have already limited your driving to daylight or familiar paths. But there are many other factors to consider:

  • Your vision: Visual awareness decreases after the age of 40. Evaluate your sight. Do you need a new prescription for your glasses? Do you have a condition such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration that may keep you from driving safely?
  • Your awareness: If processing new information has become challenging for you, or you often get lost in what used to be familiar places, it may be time to consider other means of transportation.
  • Your movement: If you have conditions such as arthritis, general stiffness or neuropathy, it may not be safe for you to drive.
  • Your medication: There are certain medications that have side effects, such as drowsiness and reduced reaction time, that can impair a driver’'s ability to operate a car safely.

You may also want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do busy intersections make me nervous?
  • Do other cars seem to appear out of nowhere?
  • Have I been stopped by the police recently?
  • Have I had any near misses lately?
  • Do I get lost easily?
  • Is it difficult to look over my shoulder when backing up?
  • Do I struggle to work familiar devices, such as the garage opener or thermostat?

Considering Alternative Means of Transportation

There are several transportation options you can take advantage of when you decide to hang up your keys. Coordinate with family and friends to run errands together. If you live in an urban area where stores are close by, try walking (you get your exercise in this way, too!). If your destination is a short distance away, call a taxi. Or better yet, use public transportation; it is affordable and better for the environment. If you have a medical appointment at the hospital, check to see if they have shuttle services. Churches often have these, too.  Remember, Kendal at Home also provides transportation services, most of which are included in your monthly fee. 

Photo: Bohman

Topics: Kendal at Home, remaining active, driving, Senior Independence, older adult

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