12/09/2016

Life moves fast. We are born, we go to school, learn to drive and join the workforce. Before you know it, we are starting our financial plan for retirement. However, too often, we do not consider that there may be a time when our mobility is threatened by the aging process or other issues. If we have the foresight to prepare ourselves to settle into financial retirement; we should also plan for the time when we can no longer be as active and mobile by developing a driving retirement plan.

Nationally, until 2030, roughly 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center. Therefore, planning for this change and making choices early can help us maintain a sense of order and control in our lives.

Retirement driving may begin for various reasons. One reason may be because of the expenses (fuel, maintenance, insurance, etc.) associated with having a car. Another may be because you feel unsafe on the roadway due to the increase in traffic conditions. Another, common to aging, is increased aging impairments, due to the natural aging process.  

Access to transportation is a large issue because a lack thereof can contribute to so many other things, such as poor health care, isolation and depression.  A recent report by researchers at Columbia University and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that “older adults who give up driving are nearly twice as likely to suffer depression as those who stay behind the wheel.” However, staying behind the wheel is not the only way to stay active in your community.

Creating a driving retirement plan may provide multiple ways to get around. So how do we begin to plan? The easiest way we can start is by creating a driving retirement plan worksheet and develop a plan which includes components like:

A.      Think about where you want and need to go and what is required to get you there. For example, to get to your destination can you walk, take a bus, flag a cab, or does this destination require driving?

B.      Types of services you would use. Have you ever used them before and are they reliable? How recently have you used them and did you feel safe. Set a goal to practice each one and decide what works best for you.

C.      Explore the companies and their services that will accommodate your mobility needs. Do you need a scooter or wheelchair?

D.      Family and friends assistance. Who could you call for a ride?

E.       Your coverage areas: Knowing how far you want to travel, and which services would take you there.

F.       Scheduled operating times: Times of operation for your choice of transportation. If you want evening transportation, keep looking for providers that offer it.

G.      Costs: The budgeted cost of staying mobile. Remember, maintaining a vehicle costs too, so consider how many rides your gas and car insurance alone might buy you.

Laying out this plan can give you a solid foundation on how you can stay mobile when it’s time to use alternatives sometimes (evening, rush hour or poor weather) or stop driving altogether. The plan can be high-level at first, exploring all that is possible with the goal to specify in more details and make changes where needed. Knowing our choices offers more control. The plan will hopefully relieve the stress and anxiety about the unknown because you are taking part in the outcome of your future mobility.

In addition, to better assist with your mobility transition, explore community resources (websites, brochures, senior centers, etc.) that can help identify the local transportation resources available that best meets your needs. Occupational therapy practitioners (generalists) in your community may help determine and recommend support systems in place for you (or your loved ones) and how to find the transportation providers that offer those services. Support services may include drivers that come to the door to walk with you or assist with packages and pets. Ask your senior center or therapist if they have a transportation resource guide. Your local Area Agency on Aging is also likely to be helpful in this regard, as is a non-profit organization that maintains a current, national database of senior transportation services, Rides in Sight.

It’s never too soon to become familiar with transportation alternatives and start our driving retirement plan. Preparing for our future mobility will go a long way to better health, an active lifestyle and peace of mind.

 

Resources:

John Daley. (2015, November 9). It’s Never Too Soon to Plan your ‘Driving Retirement”.

Sheri Samotin. (2009, July 10)). Aging Parent’s Issues: I Won’t Be a Burden

Paul Sislak. (2014, December 14) How Boomers Can Avoid Becoming Financial Burdens on Their Kids.