What if you were no longer able to drive? Would you feel like life as you know it is over, or can you think of a few transportation alternatives in your area?
Well guess what; we live in an innovative world chock-full of resources. No matter where you live, not driving doesn’t need to hinder your day-to-day life. You’ve got options. Lots of them. Let us put a few myths to rest when it comes to no longer driving.
Myth #1) My community doesn’t have a public transportation system so I don’t have any alternatives if I give up driving.
Just because you don’t have a bus, subway, or ample taxis doesn’t mean you don’t have alternative options for transportation. There are multitudes of websites and agencies you can turn to for options and lists of even more resources. To get you started, ABC News put together this list of national and state resources that help provide car services for older adults.
Here in Waukesha County, for example, our local Aging and Disability Resource Center is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to identifying a solution for transportation needs. They have a dedicated transportation department and offer a Ride Line program for older adults who are no longer driving or drive on a limited basis. After application to the program is completed, participants enjoy discounted rates to get where they need to be via safe, secure vehicles and drivers.
Myth #2) No longer driving means many days at home alone on the couch.
Absolutely not. Your ability to drive does not directly relate to your social life or ability to do your day-to-day tasks. No longer driving does not mean you have to be any less social, active, or busy. It doesn’t mean you are any less you or any less connected. You have friends, neighbors, family members, a church community, colleagues, etc… at your fingertips. Talk to them – you’ll be surprised how many people in your circle know someone who is in the same situation as you and what alternative they use for transportation. Maybe you’ll even discover that the person you’re chatting with doesn’t drive either and you never even realized it. Perhaps they’ll know of someone who is looking for a volunteer opportunity and would love the chance to drive you to the grocery store every week. There are droves of resources out there – start asking and you’re sure to find a great fit for you.
Myth #3) Not driving means I lose independence.
As one contributor on Getting Around stated: “Having a car isn’t my sole source of independence. I haven’t lived through war and the Depression and a whole host of other hardships to be stopped by not having a car! Not me!”
If anything, not driving makes you stronger and more independent. It’s an opportunity to learn, connect, and align yourself with opportunities to make the most of your new situation. It empowers you to take charge, find alternatives, and make the arrangements you need to to maintain the lifestyle you’re used to.
Myth #4) When the day comes that I give up my car or license, that’ll be a good time to learn about alternative transportation resources.
This is a situation where planning ahead will make the transition much easier. If you are already familiar with the Ride Share program, taxi, or senior shuttle in your area, it takes one less potential point of anxiety out of the equation when it’s time to make use of them. Why not try them out while you’re still driving? Ease into the transition. Get comfortable. Meet people. You’ll see there are many positives and probably a lot less to be apprehensive about than you thought.
If you realize that your transportation resources are thin in your area, why not act as an advocate to get a program started? Talk to your local Aging & Disability Resource Center, the leadership in your town, or your senior center. Make it happen.
While you’re still driving, AAA.com offers some great tools to brush up and gauge your driving skills. Check out their online search for Driving Refresher Courses near you, or track down a CarFit clinic in your area where trained professionals will help you assess ways to maximize your comfort and safety while driving.
Myth #5) If I move to an independent senior apartment or senior living community, I need to still be driving to be considered ‘independent.’
If you do take advantage of calling a senior living community home, most offer a complimentary shuttle to leisure activities like shopping trips and theater outings. Additionally, you will likely find that many also have personal transportation services for things like a hair or dentist appointment on a modest fee-per-mile basis. How wonderful does it sound for someone else to do the brushing the snow off the car, filling it with gas, and paying attention to the traffic while you chat with your friends in the warm back seat on your way to the shopping mall?
We’ll leave you with one ‘look-on-the-bright-side’ quote from Evelyn L. Freeman, Ph.D., Director of Peer Counseling at the Center for Healthy Aging, in Santa Monica. “…I’m really relieved that I don’t drive anymore. When I see the way people drive these days, I don’t want to be involved in that craziness. [And always remember], you are not your ability to drive. You are infinitely more than that.”