Mobility is freedom. And when common medical conditions or other effects of aging start to impact safe driving, it can be difficult to make the switch to the passenger seat — especially if a spouse, friend or neighbour relies on you to get around.
It’s common to feel anxious when you’re making such a dramatic change. It helps to know there are a number of transportation alternatives and community services to explore, like AMA Driving Angels who are already making a world of difference in 20 Alberta communities. Making the decision to step away from the wheel isn’t as stressful, if you know your options.
Getting the Right Support
We spend a great deal of time and energy to plan our retirement from work, but how many of us put the same amount of planning into retiring from driving? Like any major life change, it’s best to approach it in stages, rather than look at driving as an all-or-nothing proposition. Starting the conversation early and involving your family and your doctor can help ease the transition and give you back a sense of control.
If you’re concerned about a parent, spouse or neighbor’s driving safety, let an AMA Driver Education instructor build confidence with a one-on one refresher lesson or an in-vehicle evaluation for seniors.
Consider the Benefits of not Driving
Older drivers who make a retirement plan often find a renewed sense of freedom and mobility once they discover alternatives to driving. The cost of owning a vehicle – from gas to maintenance to insurance – can really add up. Many seniors find that hanging up the keys more than covers the cost of public transit, taxis or private transportation.
Many communities have volunteer driving services to help seniors stay socially active and find help getting to medical appointments or the grocery store. For those who can’t afford taxis, lack the mobility to use transit, or just need that extra support and companionship, volunteer services offer a no-cost / low-cost alternative. From carpooling to walking or cycling, many seniors discover new social connections and health benefits once they park the car for good.
In this series, we’ve discussed How to Assess Your Driving Skills, How Age Affects Your Driving Skills, and Licencing Information for Older Drivers. To get the full picture, stop into any AMA centre for your free copy of our Tips for Aging Drivers booklet or visit ama.ab.ca/AgingDrivers.