The Car

Why Keep Older Adults Safely Driving?

Cindy Davis
Written by Cindy Davis

Giving up the car keys leads to social isolation and fewer medical visits, putting seniors at risk.

It’s all about independence, self-esteem, and connection.

Baby boomers are one of the most auto-centric generations in U.S. history.  According to studies by University of Texas Professor Sandra Rosenbloom, older adults between the age of 65 and 84, make 90% of their trips by car; and those over 85 years old use a car for 80% of their trips.  Seniors most often drive to either take care of basic needs or stay involved in the community.  With such a big reliance on a car, its important to figure out how you can safely keep driving.

5 Most Common Senior Outings by Car

Five common outings include:

  1. Medical Appointments for doctor’s visits, medical tests and treatments, therapy sessions, and exercise classes.
  2. Shopping Errands for groceries, toiletries, supplies, clothing, gifts, and other essentials.
  3. Community Functions at churches, libraries, recreation centers, and volunteer locations.
  4. Entertainment and Cultural Events in theaters, museums, sports arenas, and restaurants.
  5. Celebrations and Social Gatherings with family and friends.

Because over 75% of adults over the age of 65 live in auto-dependent rural and suburban locations, having a license and car, or access to someone to who can give seniors a ride, is a must.  Further studies have shown that giving up driving increases mortality, a move to a senior living facility, and isolation and depression.  This makes sense considering:

  • 54% of non-driving seniors opt to stay at home on a given day versus only 9% of senior drivers;
  • 65% passed on trips for social, family, or religious activities; and
  • Non-drivers made 15% fewer trips to medical appointments.

With this in mind it’s critical that caregivers and their loved ones take every opportunity to extend their driving ability and develop a plan to use viable transportation options once it’s time to stop driving. 

Sources:

“Our Infrastructure Fails Seniors Who Don’t Drive, And That’s A Problem For Everyone,” Charlie Sorrell, 04-19-16, https://www.fastcompany.com/3058785/our-infrastructure-fails-seniors-who-dont-drive-and-thats-a-problem-for-everyone

“Better Options for Older Adults,” Helen Kerschner and Joan Harris,https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/07mar/03.cfm

“Meeting Transportation Needs in n Aging-Friendly Community,” Sandra Rosenbloom, Journal of the American Society on Aging, https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/old-learn/transportation/meeting-transportation-needs-in-an-aging-friendly-community-aarp.pdf

About the author

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Serial entrepreneur and former full-time caregiver for eight years to her father with multiple chronic conditions. A graduate of Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Medicine and Asian Studies; and a Master of Business Administration degree recipient in marketing and finance from UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. Currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her teenage son and advises businesses on strategic planning, marketing, finance, and operations as owner of Next Level Consulting, Inc.

Leave a Comment