Life is a series of passages, as author Gail Sheehy has written. That concept can certainly be used to describe the way we get around in life. We began this passage through life when we first learned to roll over and then to crawl. From the crawl, we passed into the walking stage of life. Then came the run, the hop, skip, and the jump.
Before long we passed into the stage of life where we learned to drive and relied on automobiles to get us from one place to another. Most of us drive for a very long period in life but eventually most of us pass through this stage, too. There comes a time when the gentle passage of life brings us to a stage when it is safer and wiser to hand over the keys and let someone else do the driving.
Many older drivers are reluctant to confront the need to stop driving for several reasons, perhaps the most compelling of which is that it is a clear and undeniable indication we are getting old. Nobody wants to get old. It’s possible, though, to enjoy safe driving well into the mature years when the issue is embraced and accepted rather than one we fight tooth and nail.
The American population is an aging population, meaning there are more drivers than ever on the road and behind the wheel from age 65 and beyond. Almost all of these senior drivers show no age-related signs of impairment at all so there’s no real need to slow down. There is a need, however, to understand how the aging body alters how we respond to the conditions of the road even though they’re the same roads we’ve enjoyed for decades. We need to alter our driving habits as our aging bodies alter us.
The decision to keep on driving is often one that involves the input of many; almost no one hands over the keys voluntarily. Families are certainly a part of the decision but so are medical professionals, state lawmakers, and even the scientists and analysts we’ll never meet who make a living studying the effects of age and driving abilities.
As the driving population ages, there are more resources than ever before available to ensure safe drivers have all the tools, training classes, and elder driver awareness programs needed to continue driving safely for as long as possible. Public service announcements, alternative means of transportation, and research on how we can make our cars and our roadways more compatible with the needs of the older driver are all part of the grand scheme to extend the drive time of the people we love the most.
The desire to enhance the driving quality of our parents and grandparents isn’t just limited to the United States, either. It’s a global concern as the lifespan of the human race continues to increase everywhere.
One of the reasons for the increasing human lifespan, though, can spell trouble on the road. We extend our good health by taking prescription medications that can impair the ability to respond quickly or think clearly when accomplishing a task as complex as driving. Non-prescription medications and alcohol have an affect on driving ability, too, as we age because, as we get older, our tolerance for these substances diminishes.
For safest driving well into the golden years, we’ve got to be old dogs willing to learn new tricks. Some of those tricks are revealed in the links here. This information is presented in alphabetical order by title and includes information the entire family can share and discuss with peace and calm long before reaching the passage that brings an end of driving for the oldest loved ones in the family.