Talking with senior parents about driving: Part 3

Doing the research

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed how you and your parents can get into the mindset to ease out of driving. Now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road: What resources can senior drivers use instead?

Much of this research can be done online, and is often a good way for a local adult child to engage their out-of-town siblings and bring them into this family project. Judi Bonilla, a San Diego gerontologist and the author of Freewheeling After Sixty, suggests the following resources:

  • Senior driving improvement courses. “These are often overlooked. Someone who’s been driving for six or seven decades likely needs a brush-up on their skills,” says Judi. Senior driving classes also help drivers make necessary modifications due to chronic conditions that “don’t mean they need to stop driving.” Classes are offered online and in person through AAA and other agencies, and can help your parent understand their strengths and limitations behind the wheel.

  • Local neighborhood council. Your parents’ community association will likely know how other seniors in the neighborhood get around, and also who might be willing to help out with rides!  This is a residential community-based social network, so only locals can join. Create an account for your parents in their own neighborhood and then ask the hivemind what ride resources are available locally.

  • City and county websites. Most paratransit programs are funded and administered by a combination of city and county resources, so it’s on their websites that you can find information about eligibility and availability. Many also offer classes for seniors on navigating local public transit.

  • The Villages network. The “Villages” are local groups of seniors that support each other to stay in their homes as long as possible. They often have strong volunteer driving programs and are very keyed in to local resources. Check to see if your parents have one in their area by visiting vtvnetwork.org/.

  • Arrive Rides! Arrive dispatches on-demand rides through Lyft and Uber for people who don’t have smartphones. We’re a personalized concierge service for this transportation, so we do everything within our power to make sure your parents feel safe and well-taken-care-of when they order a ride…including monitoring it to ensure that they’re picked up, on time, in a vehicle that’s appropriate for them. Arrive is available anywhere Lyft and Uber have service.

Handing over the research to your parents isn’t enough. Discuss the options you’ve found with them and, together, make a list of what’s right for them. (We’ve created this free transportation planning template to help you organize.)

Thinking back to what we talked about in Part 1 of this series—feeling uncomfortable in a new situation—be sure you take the time to be a real partner to your parents. Go to the public transit class together. Get on two phone extensions to call Arrive Rides and ask about pickup times in their neighborhood. Ride the bus or a Lyft together.

Judi has one more piece of advice: Start this process early. It’s much easier to learn to ride the local bus system when you’re not stressed about making a big lifestyle change. It’s easier to ask a friend for a ride when you’re not worried you’re going to need another one the next day. The earlier your family starts planning for a change, the better-equipped it’s going to be for that change.

 

This is Part 3 of a four-part series.

In Part 1, Judi discussed the importance of empathy in these conversations, and we learned how she put herself into the shoes of someone giving up driving.

In Part 2, Judi gave us tips for broaching the subject and starting the conversation with your parents about driving alternatives.

In Part 4, Judi puts this topic in a historical perspective, and makes you feel part of a movement by engaging with your family on the subject.

 

Judi Bonilla is a San Diego-based gerontologist on a mission to help seniors stop driving when it’s no longer safe for them. Her book, Freewheeling After Sixty, is available on Amazon.

 

Arrive Rides dispatches Lyft and Uber rides for people who don’t have smartphones. More at www.arriverides.com.