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No Keys? No problem! Transportation Alternatives When Driving Isn’t an Option

By Susanna Barton April 05, 2024 Lifestyle

When physical or cognitive impairment hinders your ability to drive, it’s time to start exploring the transportation alternatives available in your community.

You are not shifting gears alone. According to a National Aging and Disability Transportation Center study, one in five Americans over the age of 65 are not driving and 600,000 adults stop driving every year. “Giving up the keys” – or letting go of the steering wheel – is a natural course of events for many older adults so it behooves all of us to embrace the thought and plan for it!

Fortunately for those of us rocking the second half these days, there are plenty of convenient opportunities available to help keep us on track and out on the town.

Let’s put the pedal to the metal on a few of those transportation options.

Ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft or Go-Go Grandparent

Everybody’s doing it! 36 percent of American adults use ride-hailing, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey.

Delivery Apps and Services Like Shipt and Amazon

It’s like magic, you order and it appears. A SeniorLiving.com article said one in four seniors ordered their food through a delivery app in 2020.

Public Transportation

Check with your community’s transportation authority and figure out which buses, trains or subways are located near you and the places you need to be.

Chauffer Services

Taxi and scheduled ride services abound in most cities, see which ones are available and determine their rates and destinations.

Teenagers or Young Adult Drivers

Many young people out there are looking for a side hustle or extra work. Ask the youth in your circles if they’d be available to drive you wherever you need to go. It’s a win-win for all!

Family and Friends

Family and friends are your biggest resources. Communicate with them about your needs and see if they would be willing to swing by and pick you up from time to time.

Carpool with Neighbors

Most folks in our communities are heading to the same destinations on a daily basis. Not only does it save energy and gas, carpooling is a fun way to get those errands done together.

Moving to Somewhere More Walkable

Make walk- and bike-ability a top priority when it comes to choosing a residence during your Golden Years. That way, car dependence is not a big deal. Plus, it’s a great excuse to get outside and enjoy your neighborhood.

Cycling

Biking, or cycling, is a wonderful way to get around if you live in a bike-friendly area. Don’t forget your helmet and make sure you are obeying the rules of the road!

Community Transportation Services

If you live in a retirement village or senior living community, you likely have access to a bus or van that can take you to any of the places you need to go.

Driverless Car Technology

There are car manufacturers that build into their vehicles AI operated driverless car technology. Yes, this is our exciting reality!

Acceptance of Reality Is Important

No matter your current driving status, one important consideration is to make sure you are accepting of and ready for the possibility you may not be able to do so one day. The greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is to acknowledge this fact now. To make this thinking official, print out and sign a driving planning agreement or contract via AARP or the Alzheimer’s Association.

Also, be open to taking a driver’s class to assess your skills and abilities. The last thing you want to do is endanger the lives of those around you, in your community or on the road. By making these decisions on your own, you can maintain control and independence on your own terms.

Keeping your car in park or giving up the keys doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Think of it as a reward for all the hustle and bustle and exhausting driving you’ve been doing over the years. This is your time to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Further read, I USED TO BE SCARED OF DRIVING BUT AM NOW WISING UP!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What services do you use for transportation or delivery? If you are no longer driving, what are some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced?

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Carol Anne Cole

This is my biggest problem! We are out in the country and I don’t drive. My husband does, but he hates going into the city and when we do he doesn’t like to go very many places. He is getting very stressed out when driving these days, which in turn affects me. I don’t know very many people out here. I would love to be able to go more places.

Sandra Pfister

Your location has a lot to do with alternatives being actually available. I am no longer out in the country but I am in a small town (under 20K) and it would be really, really difficult to get around without a car.

Jennifer L. Jessup

It is a joy to care for our planet by walking, bicycling, and using public transit.

Lin

I enjoy not having cars to worry about anymore. No car payments, no repairs, no insurance, no maintenance, and who cares about gas prices! We gave up cars when we retired and moved to the city. Best idea we ever had. In our city seniors 65+ ride buses, subways, trolleys, and local trains for free. One of our trains even stops at the airport. We love the car free life.

Marcia

Where do you live please?

Janneke Anderson

We live in a rural area between two cities of 35, 000 pop plus. There is bus service, but it is hourly. I qualify for the Handidart bus service, but it is not handy in a rural area. When we both retired, we went down to one vehicle. Because of rising fuel costs we limit and plan our trips. I do walk when I can for exercise benefits. I am not ready to hand in my keys at this time.

Sandra Pfister

I’m in a small town (under 20K) which is a blend of rural areas. We have a few taxis, no Uber/Lyft and a “bus” service that is basically unreliable. I couldn’t survive here right now without a car.

Sharie

I’ve not owned a car since 1992 and utilize most of the alternatives you list. I spent decades commuting to work on bicycle, bus and metro train; found all of these enjoyable. Now I’m retired, I usually try to walk if my destination is within 4-5 miles. Most important to my car-free happiness and success are living in a walkable area of my city and adopting a positive no-car attitude. Giving up your car isn’t impossible if you plan a bit. It’s definitely a bonus for your financial health, physical health and mental wellbeing.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sharie
Donna

It’s So refreshing to read there are others like me who choose to live car free & love it! Walking/biking/transit is functional physical activity with so much more opportunity for social interaction rather than being stuck alone in a metal bubble. For all you drivers out there, please explore more sustainable transportation choices while it’s still your choice! My dear Mom insisted on continuing to drive only to a couple routine places & one day made a left hand turn into oncoming traffic and broke her neck & ribs & seriously injured the driver she plowed into. She lived thru it but it totally changed her life & the life of her kids. Driving is dangerous! Explore other options. You may really like it as many of us do.

The Author

Susanna Barton, a longtime writer in Jacksonville FL, is the founder of the Grand Plans online community, podcast, newsletter and blog. Her book Grand Plans: How to Mitigate Geri-Drama in 20 Easy Steps and its accompanying workbook, the Grand Planner, are available in local stores and on Amazon. For more information visit http://www.mygrandplans.com.

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