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Clare Oaks Blog

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2017
By: Clare Connection

To Drive, or not to Drive, That is the Question

Last year my mother sold her Volvo. Normally, that would not be a big deal. What was momentous was that she was giving up driving entirely. She told me that it  wasn't that big of a decision. Her vertigo and arthritis made driving scary and uncomfortable for her. She knew it was time. This transition is not always that clear cut nor easy. A lot of seniors don't want to give up their independence, their control, their mobility.

In the language of scholarly articles, this is called driving cessation. It is a topic for the psychological journals because it is a serious matter. Dr. Charles Musselwhite wrote a paper concerning the importance of driving for older people, talking about the deeper issues of driving cessation: loss of independence, control, status, and roles. It is alright to feel uncomfortable about this: it is normal. It can lead to depression, anxiety, physical and/or mental health problems. My mother's case was simple and clear. She felt more relieved not driving. Others are not that easy.

Sometimes when people are reluctant to give up driving, this can cause concern among friends and family for the safety of their loved ones. Most people can't imagine not having the freedom to hop in their car to go where they need or want to. How do you make this transition easily? Dr. Musselwhite's study suggests that seniors who begin to think about stopping driving should experiment with not driving. His study shows that transitioning to not driving is made easier when older people plan ahead. Start giving up driving before you have to. A fun and easy way to do this is to use the Clare Oaks scheduled transportation, making the trip a social event rather than a daily living function. Use the transportation on one of the weekly outings to the library or a concert. On your next date with your wife or happy hour with friends, go to the Oak Tree Pub, have some grub and a glass of wine, then call Uber or a local taxi company for a drive to the movies. If you prepare in advance to stop driving, the impact is less traumatic than if you don't.

Living in Bartlett, Illinois makes it easy to stop driving. The Metra Commuter Train Station, just down the street, provides trips to Chicago and other suburbs along the way and offers a senior citizen discount. Hanover Township also provides Dial-A-Bus. The bus will come to Clare Oaks and transport you wherever you want to go within their borders. They operate Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 3:30 PM and Saturday mornings. They suggest a donation of $1 each way, and can take you to restaurants, the barber shop, the senior center, etc.

Driving cessation is a big decision. Talk about it with your spouse, friends, and  family. Plan ahead. Use interventions like social trips to lessen the impact. Life at Clare Oaks makes this transition much easier since you are surrounded by friends, chef-prepared meals, social activities, support if needed, and religious activities--all under one roof. Find out more about the transportation available at Clare Oaks by calling 630-372-1946.

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Clare Oaks, 825 Carillon Drive, Bartlett, Illinois 60103
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