Has your driving career neared its end? An AAA Foundation study reveals that the incidence of road accidents increases once drivers hit age 65. If you're a senior driver, your risk of dying in a wreck is nearly 50 percent greater than that of drivers between 55 and 64. Despite this statistic, most seniors need a boost to consider the prospect of handing over the car keys for good.
Has driving become an issue in your family? Perhaps one of your children has pointed out that your driving skills aren't as sharp as they used to be. Maybe night driving has become too "iffy." Or, maybe you didn't pass your driver's license test. If operating a motor vehicle has grown dangerous, it's time to take the high road. You won't lose your freedom if you let an in-home caregiver help you "retire" from driving.
Difficulty with multitasking, like the many demands of driving, is just one sign of the natural shift in your abilities as you age. Household chores probably take more effort than they used to as well. By hiring an assistant who provides transportation and home-based services, you'll be gaining an ally--someone whose goal it is to get you where you're going and help you get things done.
Where can you find professionals who specialize in these personal services? Look no further than your local senior care agency. This type of business hires and trains reliable drivers and caregivers. They understand that your abilities might not keep up with your ambitions as you get older, and they are ready to step in and do what it takes to keep you safe and sound. Securing in-home care now will ease your "retirement" transition to the passenger's seat.
The Best Transportation Alternative
You'll want to know how driving services related to in-home care rate against the alternatives.
When you choose to become full-time passenger, you'll have several transportation options.
Which of these best suits your personality and lifestyle?
Rides with friends or family
Municipal lift buses that exclusively serve seniors
Personal service from a professional caregiver
Hiring a private driver is not feasible for most seniors, so this might not be an option for you, especially if you live on a fixed income. Counting on friends or relatives for rides to the many places you need to go is probably not realistic, either. Even well-meaning people who offer to drive won't always understand or meet your needs and desires. Although you may be retiring from driving, you probably aren't planning to give up an active life. Depending on where you live and what your health status is, general public transportation may or may not be safe or convenient for you. For instance, riding on city buses, trains, or streetcars might be fine, but getting to and from the stops might not be. Using call-ahead service dedicated to senior transport can be helpful at times. But when needs suddenly arise or your schedule
changes, this system may be less than ideal.
Now, suppose you already receive home visits from a caregiver who drives, daily or a few times a week. You can plan to get to appointments, shop, or take recreational trips during your normal schedule. When something special comes up, if your regular caregiver can't be there, the senior care agency will arrange for a lift. These privately owned or franchise businesses keep skilled and screened staff on hand that you can count on. But there are more reasons to let your caregiver do the driving. First, you'll have good company from someone you know, wherever you go. More importantly, your security will be a top priority. In-home care agencies train and monitor caregivers who drive, making sure they are well versed in emergency procedures and basic health care and have safe driving records. Best of all, the service they provide is complete: it's not just a ride, it's part of your lifestyle.
Bonus At-Home Services
The faculties you use to drive--vision, depth perception, reflex time--are also critical to your physical safety at home. If you are less likely to see hazards, judge distances, and act quickly, you are more likely to trip and fall, drop things, or suffer impacts. At one time, falls and bumps didn't matter. But if you're over 65, common household accidents are more likely to cause bone fractures and muscle tears. Getting help at home as you let someone else do the driving will greatly reduce your safety risks.
Why choose one over the other when a caregiver can provide both? Unlike bus services for seniors, in-home care doesn't end when you unbuckle your seatbelt. You'll be glad to have someone unload the groceries ... and then make a meal and clean up afterwards. This is driving "retirement" at its best.
When you sign up with a senior care agency, you'll select who will come to your home and what you'd like help with. You're in charge, and your caregiver will accommodate any changes in your health or abilities as time goes by. Which of these services--and which portion of them--would you like to share or surrender right now?
Laundry: gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, putting away
Meals: planning, grocery shopping, preparing, table setting, doing dishes
Housekeeping: tidying, dusting, vacuuming, making beds
Groundskeeping: watering the lawn, feeding birds, visiting the mailbox
Maintenance: changing lightbulbs, wrapping pipes, maintaining appliances
In-home care providers will also keep aisle ways clear of clutter and make sure the smoke detector is working. Reducing your worry factor preserves your health, so you'll have more energy to get out and about. You may find that once you step away from driving and unwanted tasks, you'll enjoy walking in your neighborhood more.
What Driving "Retirement" Looks Like
Where would you like to go today? You might have obligations, meetings, plans--or just the need to be spontaneous in getting away from home every now and then. Senior care agencies have the flexibility to satisfy these contingencies. They'll assign you a personal caregiver who can remind you of appointments, help you get ready to go, take you there on time, and bring you back when you're ready. Don't miss a trip to:
Visit a friend
Go out to lunch
Vote or do volunteer work
See a play or hear a concert
Visit church, the library, or a lecture hall
Browse or shop at grocery stores and shopping centers
Meet with doctors, dentists, or other health care providers
When you "retire" from driving this way, you get door-to-door service without having to deal with car repairs or oil changes. If you need to wear something special or fix your hair before you go, professional caregivers will help out. If you need to gather paperwork or bring along personal items, they'll make sure you do. This sounds a lot like what you used to do before handing over the car keys, doesn't it? Part of professional in-home care is keeping you safe, wherever you go. Balance or medical issues may mean that the "buddy system" is the best way for you to travel. Your caregiver will be glad to accompany you on shopping trips, to medical centers, and even to family gatherings if it makes you feel more secure. When you'd rather stay home, your caregiver can run errands for you.
It may be time to end your driving career, but not your social life and personal endeavors. Combining home care with transportation is the best way to preserve what you love about life.
Many people find themselves busier than ever once they retire. With in-home care--even without a car--you could be one of them.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: AAA Foundation Study
Oregon Public Broadcasting: When Should Seniors Hang Up the Car Keys?