Senior Scene January 25, 2016

During the past week as I scurried out to my vehicle every morning in the frigid temperatures and wonder if “James” will even start, I thought about how life would feel if I were not able to drive. Recently a couple of my older neighbours had to relinquish their drivers license, but thankfully they have spouses who are still able to “chauffer” them around so the impact of the situation has been minimalized.  Here are some tips to help a senior in your circle adjust to life without driving.

Like any change, adjusting to life without a car will be tough at first.  Some tips on helping a senior to make the transition include:

  • If possible, work with the senior to decide when to limit or stop driving. This sense of control is very important.
  • Help the senior find other ways to get around: research availability of transportation in their area, and schedules, routes, and costs.
  • Encourage the senior to reach out and connect to new people, many of whom may offer rides.
  • Make sure that the senior has rides to their usual activities. When a senior stops driving, continuing with other routines can be very soothing.
  • Help the senior to make a schedule. They can plan activities on a weekly basis and match up the best ride for the activity. Some activities, like doctor’s appointments, require punctuality, and others, like going to the grocery store, may be more flexible.
  • Investigate home delivery. Find out which services deliver and help the senior to learn to use the Internet for shopping.
  • Remind the senior to plan for fun. They must think beyond “needs” when planning their transportation schedule. Outings for church and social events are just as important.
  • Encourage the senior to use positive language to describe their situation and to ask for assistance. Thinking about their transition as one that they can handle will help them to adjust quickly.
  • Offer rides and find others who can offer rides. Asking for rides is one of the hardest parts of not driving. For many non-driving seniors, asking for rides highlights the unwelcome truth of dependence.
  • Some seniors may adjust better if they can keep their own car and have others drive them. Travelling in their own car may feel more comfortable and familiar, and the sense of loss from not driving may be lessened.

When looking for travel alternatives in our region, people often discover the wonderful escorted transportation program provided by Community Care for South Hastings. We have volunteer drivers who use their personal vehicles to accompany seniors and adults with physical disabilities to medical, dental, and therapeutic appointments.  This service is a perfect option if travelling by public transit or taxi is not a feasible solution.

Having said this, we are currently suffering a shortage of volunteer drivers willing to provide local transportation to our community seniors. If you would like to help our seniors access their healthcare professionals in the Belleville area, please call Lee at 613-969-0130 and she will explain the program and the volunteer registration process.  There is nothing as fulfilling as being a volunteer and knowing you are making a huge difference in someone’s life.