Retiring the car
As seniors, we know that there will eventually come a time when we’ll have to stop driving. There are many reasons why this happens, but it’s often because of health and vision-related issues that make operating a motor vehicle too dangerous. It can be emotionally challenging to have to hand over the keys and give up what feels like a tremendous amount of freedom and independence, but sometimes it’s all about how you look at things.
When you give up driving, you’ll also be giving up:
- Car insurance payments
- The exorbitant cost of gas
- Regular (and costly!) car maintenance appointments
- The role of designated driver
- Driving in bad weather when the roads are poor and dangerous
And what will you gain? Space in your garage (which can be converted into a workshop or storage space) and peace of mind knowing that you don’t have to worry about the stress of driving – when you know you shouldn’t.
Obviously the transition takes some time to get used to, and you’ll have to do things a little differently without your wheels, but there are ways to help you settle into this new normal and resources you can tap into when needed.
- Reframe your thinking. Yes, it is a loss that you will absolutely mourn, and you’ll have to be more reliant on others at times, which may seem awkward at first. But look at it as an opportunity to see your friends and family more often, and to make a new network of friends.
- Plan ahead. Check out sites like Easy Meal Planning which can help you plan up to a month’s worth of meals at a time. That way you’ll be able to shop less frequently, and won’t have to worry about having to run out several times a week. Find out if your local grocery store and drugstore offer online shopping and delivery services. Plan to run errands and go to appointments on the same day, if possible.
- Stay connected. Find activities within walking distance, volunteer at local schools, hospitals or places of worship; have friends over for coffee; host regular game nights or movie nights; and accept invitations from friends and family members.
- Look into resources for seniors. There may be a senior transportation program in your area staffed by volunteers who offer driving services. Ask at your local senior center or place of worship to see if they have any advice, or check out sites like National Volunteer Transportation Centre (US) and ElderCare (Canada).
- Reach out. Don’t be embarrassed to ask friends, family members or neighbors to lend a hand every now and then. Most people really do enjoy helping others and will be pleased that you asked. You might consider setting up a list of available drivers so that the responsibility doesn’t fall on just one or two people, and so that there will always be someone available when you need a lift.
As with any life change, it’s important to try to focus on the good, and to use your energy to be proactive about figuring out how to make that change fit into your lifestyle. Giving up your car will certainly take some getting used to, and it’s okay to feel sad about the loss of that part of your life, but remember that there are options for making the transition a little easier and lots of ways to continue enjoying your car-less life.
413495B CA/US (04/16)