Do you remember the excitement that filled your heart when you were about to turn sixteen and couldn’t wait to get your driver’s license? We were counting the hours up to that momentous occasion that would provide us with fun and independence! We would be licensed to go wherever we wanted to go, provided we had wheels to get there.
Now fast forward 50 or 60 years. If we are physically able, we may still be enjoying the driving experience. But what about when that adventure turns into endangerment for yourself or others? The very thought of having our car keys or license taken away sends shivers down our spine. We feel as if we will lose our freedom, become isolated, or worse yet, become dependent on others.
Does Driving Really Equal Independence?
Twenty years ago, many would have said yes, driving is all about maintaining independence. But today there are so many options, I think the tide has turned. Many people actually prefer not to drive! Traffic in California is crazier than ever, and when we do have inclement weather, it may be safer not to be the one behind the wheel.
About 10,000 Americans are turning 70 each day. They still want to participate in social gatherings, shopping, family events and outings. Receiving transport from family and friends may be the number one choice, but their availability could be a hinderance. Some older adults who don’t want to miss out on the fun, may not have someone close who is willing to give them a lift. Take heart and know there are other selections available.
Simple Transportation Solutions to Try Today
ITN America is a resource with some award-winning programs. Whether you are a senior who needs a ride, a medical professional who hopes to help patients keep their appointments, or a business owner who wants to keep older customers coming back, there are several Personal Transportation Accounts available.
If someone chooses to volunteer as a driver for the organization, they can rack up credits that their family member can use for rides when they need it – even if they don’t live in the same city! If someone is choosing to get rid of their vehicle, it can be donated, and they too are given credits for free rides because of the donation! To learn more, watch this video.
Rides In Sight is also a dignified transportation service that provides rides for seniors all over the U.S. People can access rides through their service even if they live in rural areas as featured on Huffington Post. Many families find themselves needing to make decisions as to whether or not an aging parent should be driving at all. Medication, vision issues, hearing loss and other health concerns could play a role in who should or should not be behind the wheel.
Village Movement California helps seniors find answers to their transportation needs, and at the same time, opportunities to stay sharp and continue learning. This website creates events to enhance and expand the aging experience. Through personal growth tools and connections, they offer solutions that empower seniors to enjoy being in charge of their own lives. They create communities where people want to grow together and still experience the joys of life. You can find your local village here.
How to Nurture Self-Sufficiency
So maybe driving doesn’t really equal independence at all! Self-sufficiency can be nurtured through action in several ways:
This is the best way to avoid isolation and loneliness. Meeting others with common interests can be the catalyst for new and delightful friendships. It’s good to be willing to try new things in safe environments.
Some of the newest books or blogs geared toward enjoying the golden years may be the vaccine to steer clear of depression. Here is a list of the Top 5 Books on Healthy Aging.
What could be more stimulating than to gather with others to dialog about interesting topics?
- Palos Verdes Peninsula Village has designed some wonderful groups to encourage learning with friends new and old.
- Eclectic Readers Club gets together to review 2 books each month and then share what they are currently reading.
- Men of a Certain Age gathers for fun, food and social activities like touring the Automotive Museum, or checking out local restaurants together.
- If you need a boost, SMILE! Seniors Meeting in Laughter and Enjoyment might be the one for you. This group meets to share funny stories and jokes with each other.
- Westside Pacific Villages has found a way to leverage resources already in their community to help seniors who long to age in place. Here is a brief clip on how they are impacting their village members. To learn more, watch this video.
- The Pasadena Village has groups that enjoy potlucks, and exercise. The Urban Walkers explore the many diverse neighborhoods of Pasadena and generally walk 3-4 miles in length. During their adventures, they are able to learn more about the different areas where Pasadena Village Members reside and often times stop to enjoy a coffee and pastries at local shops. If the Urban Walkers is too strenuous, they have another group called EZ Walkers which is a bit more relaxed in their journeys.
The Bottom Line
A lot has changed for the better over the years. Senior citizens are no longer destined to rock their years away in a chair on the porch and there are some amazing organizations making sure of that! Does driving really equal independence? Not anymore!
The options are presenting themselves with a new passion to care for our older adults. Now, excitement can fill the hearts of seniors everywhere when they have a place to go, friends to see and a ride to get there! It really does take a community to change the way we age. It’s good to know we’re all in this together.