Dave (not his real name) was eighty-five and still depended heavily on his car to get around to visit friends, shop, and do errands. One day he noticed that when he came to a stop sign, he would hesitate even though it was safe to proceed. When he was almost ready to move forward, he felt more indecision and agitation. He sensed something was wrong, and later he was able to share it with his wife. The doctor diagnosed Dave with early to middle stages of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Fortunately, with counselling and support, he could make a smooth transition to driving cessation. At first, it was difficult for him to sit calmly in the passenger seat. However, he was respectful of his wife who would now assume full responsibility. Dave gradually began to get comfortable participating in this activity by looking out and talking to his wife about the roads and traffic and how to best maintain their road safety.
an enormous opportunity exists here with a potentially vast wave of boomers and seniors becoming riders
Ron wasn't as lucky. A bachelor and veteran, he lived alone and began making some serious driving errors so that a report came to the attention of authorities. A couple of off-duty officers went to his house and confronted him about the imminent danger he posed. Ron became enraged, and the officers had to restrain him. No doubt this is just one crisis of many that many older adults will be facing. In Ron's case, the effects of AD isolated him to the extent that it distorted his perception of the efforts of others to help. Doctors, caregivers, counsellors and drive test personnel must be on the alert for signs of cognitive impairment and report potential factors that would make their clients' driving a risk to themselves and others. They consider neurological disease, cataracts, lower physical activity level, and functional disability. Other factors are the loss of income, maintenance and insurance costs. We Niagaraians have such a pervasive dependency on our private vehicles that there are so few available riders willing to support an inexpensive public ride system. Consequently, even with intercity routes established and those amazing "kneeling" buses, it's next to impossible to fund public transportation that meets the needs of all users. However, an enormous opportunity exists here with a potentially vast wave of boomers and seniors becoming riders who have decided to give up their keys earlier for a safe worry-free ride.
As time passes loss of mobility and dependency mushroom, an army of personnel must be hired to procure and deliver goods and services for others, using more taxi, truck, ambulance, and private car deliveries. The outcome is nothing less than a loss of air quality and environmental issues. Consider also the stress and exhaustion placed on workers. Any change will be slow, but the experience of driver cessation will no doubt be an accident in the making. ©
Reprinted from my September 2012 article