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4 Misconceptions about Giving up the Car Keys

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Discontinuing driving can be a scary proposition. It’s time to separate fact from fiction. Some fears of giving up driving are rooted in falsehood, according to driving experts. Here are four common misconceptions seniors may have about giving up driving:

  1. Driving yourself is cheaper than paying for alternative transportation. It doesn’t take long to think about the fallacy of this idea. When you add up the cost of a vehicle—either lease or purchase—along with expenses of insurance and maintenance, not to mention fuel, driving a vehicle can be pricey. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, households living in auto-dependent locations spend 25 percent of their income on transportation costs.

  2. Driving is more reliable; alternatives are less convenient. This could be a tough one to refute. After all, there is a certain spontaneity about getting in a vehicle and going whenever you want. When you think about it, though, vehicles are fallible and so are drivers. As seniors’ driving abilities diminish, they may not be able to rely on themselves as much as they used to. Older adults should feel confident in bus schedules and driving services that are pre-arranged to help them get where they want to go, and back again! Even before an older adult quits driving, test out different options with your loved one and find a good fit for reliability and convenience.

  3. “I can’t give up the wheel. I’ve been driving my whole life!” According to a survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, the freedom and independence to go wherever they want, whenever they want, is the primary reason surveyed seniors (29%) reportedly are dependent on driving. Sixteen percent are used to driving and simply like to drive.

    Giving up a lifelong driving habit can be terrifying. An individual’s identity may be connected to owning a vehicle and the ability to drive. Elin Schold Davis, Project Coordinator, Older Driver Initiative, American Occupational Therapy Association, recommends that those who give up driving still carry picture identification. (In most states you can trade your driver’s license for a photo ID at your licensing agency, Davis noted.) That helps reinforce the sense of identity that a license may have provided. Also, if that ’68 Mustang convertible was important to your loved one, why sell it? He can still polish it and won’t likely have to look far to find someone to provide him a ride.

  4. “I won’t be able to go anywhere or see anyone!” When you think about it, owning and driving a vehicle could be more isolating than many alternatives that are available to older adults. A senior who relies only on himself or herself and a vehicle isn’t likely to reach out to others for help. Transportation alternatives may open up a whole new world of contacts and friends that being the sole driver of a vehicle might never afford.

Check out three roadblocks families typically face when seniors give up the car keys.

Last revised: April 28, 2016

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Posted by Mary Sheridan

    Many cities have subsidized bus service that allows riders to schedule trips at their convenience. I'll be taking a trial run soon with my brother to reassure him that he can get from Brookdale Senior Living to my house or wherever, keeping part of his independence.


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