The ability to drive represents independence, self-sufficiency, freedom, and spontaneity in American culture. Loss of driving can lead to isolation and loneliness. Therefore, it is one of the hardest things to let go of. When to stop is a topic for great debate. Many people are able to continue driving through their 70s, 80s and into their 90s. Others need to stop and use alternative transportation due to physical or mental changes.
If you are still driving, you can improve your safety by taking the AARP driver safety course. It can also reduce insurance costs. The class is offered in-person and on-line. It addresses age-related changes, safe driving techniques, and updates you about rules of the road and your vehicle. A similar course is taught by AAA and others.
It is important to determine when it is no longer safe to drive, before having a serious accident that harms others. A 2004 AAA study found that older adults were the highest risk group for accidents after teens. They are also the most likely to be seriously injured or killed. The aging process can affect the ability to drive in many ways, including vision, hearing, mobility, longer reaction time, medication effects, impaired sleep, and cognitive problems such as dementia. Sometimes family, friends or physicians become concerned and recommend that driving stop when they notice these signs.
Many people begin to self-limit driving when they become aware of these issues, choosing to stop driving at night, avoid freeways, rush hour and unfamiliar routes. Sometimes this limiting comes after an accident or close call. If a person will not limit or stop, the doctor can refer a person for a thorough driving evaluation at St. Lawrence Rehabilitation.
If you are concerned about someone’s driving, go for a ride with them as a passenger. Check whether safe practices are being used, such as seatbelts, sunglasses, checking mirrors, using turn signals (and turning off), waiting an adequate length of time before entering a roadway, responding to traffic lights, driving in a manner expected by other drivers (speed, signaling, turning, etc), braking smoothly and appropriately, staying in lane and maintaining steady speed. Can they turn their head far enough to look over a shoulder? Do they have good reflexes and appropriate responses to the unexpected? Can they read road signs? Do they get confused about where they are or where they are going en-route? Is there evidence of recent accidents, dents or scrapes, traffic violations?
There are more transportation options in Princeton than in many local communities for those who do not drive. If you want more information on any of these services, please call PSRC.
· Crosstown – door to door rides in a car within the Borough and Township for people 65+. $3 per ride. To register and buy vouchers, call PSRC.
· Ride Provide – door to door rides around Mercer County within 10 miles of Quakerbridge Mall. Charges vary.
· TRADE – bus rides for people 60+ or with disabilities, no charge for rides to health appointments, nutrition sites, programs or other services.
· Access Link – van transportation for people who are unable to ride a public bus due to a disability. Origin and destination must be within ¾ mi of a bus route.
· Princeton FreeB-new jitney service around the Borough which runs 5-9 am and 5-9 pm. We hope to see expansion of hours and services.
· Tiger Transit – Princeton University circulator busses are free for everyone.
· Public busses and trains. Senior discounts are available.
If you have a friend or family member who no longer drives, encourage them to use these options to maintain their activities and connections in the community. Help arrange rides so they can get to classes or church, or take them with you when you go out. Volunteer to drive for Ride Provide. Support Crosstown and efforts to expand the FreeB service.
Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW
GrandPals Celebrate 20 Years!
No One Ages Well Alone
Help at Home
November 2016 Family Caregiving
October 2016 Annual Report
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Is Your Home Age- Friendly?
May 2016 Director's Message Part 2 - We Need Your Help
May 2016 - Part 1 - Going Solo
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September- Looking Back and Looking Forward
July - August 2011; Ageism
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Knit Wits, April 2011
Lessons and Legacies, March 2011
Independent Living February 2011
Home Safety January 2011
Witness to my Life December 2010
Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010
Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
Aging In America May 2010
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Spirituality March 2010
Encore Careers January 2010
Hiring Home Care
Annual Giving by
Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009
Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
Spring Cleaning April 2008
Have You Had the Talk Yet?
Get Moving with FitRhythms™!
My Condolences January 2008
What Are Social Services? November 2007
Plan for the Future September 2007
The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007
Volunteering June 2007
Strategic Plan May 2007
National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007
Brain Health March 2007
Resiliency February 2007
Transportation January 2007
Season of Giving December 2006
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Lets Talk February 2006
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Watch Your Language September 2005
Medicare Part D Summer 2005
Sue Tillett June 2005
The End of the Journey May 2005
Clutter March 2005
New Dietary Guidelines February 2005
Transitions January 2005
Funding December 2004
Caregiving November 2004
Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004
A New Look September 2004
Safe Driving Summer 2004
Food Safety June 2004
Communication June 2004
The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004
Seniors On The Move April 2004
Depression March 2004
McGreevey February 2004
Medications January 2004
Random Acts of Kindness December 2003
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Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003
Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003