It’s not easy to admit to ourselves, that waning eyesight and reduced reactions affect our driving skills.

Unfortunately, as we age, our faculties i.e. sight, hearing and reaction time diminish. Therefore, there will come a time when we must decide to give up driving. However, most people do not face this reality. It’s not easy to admit to ourselves, that waning eyesight and reduced reactions affect our driving skills. Additionally, the emotional toll of giving up our driving license is huge. We lose our freedom and independence, thus have to rely on family, friends or others.

“…more than half of Americans age 65 or older who can’t drive – almost four million people – stay home on any given day because they lack transportation…Former drivers also report higher levels of depression than active drivers…”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12 January 2006

Public Transportation, in most communities, is not viable. Therefore, elders who can no longer drive face isolation. Additionally, such necessities as food shopping, doctor appointments, access to governmental programs – senior centers, social engagements are no longer simple matters without an automobile.

In Frederick, Maryland, we are fortunate to have the TRANSIT service, which provides transportation services to some seniors.  However, TRANSIT does not cover all the areas elders need to travel, or at anytime.

Programs that rely on volunteer drivers can be hard to maintain because drivers fear of increased insurance premiums, gasoline costs, and liability issues.

Seniors need help. School children get buses to and from school; there are plenty of services for the young. But seniors are the forgotten generation. U.S. Senator Susan Collins [Rep., ME] did try enact legislation, the “Older Americans Sustainable Mobility Act” which

“…would create a tax deduction for senior citizens who donate their cars to a transportation program – and also would require that they get financial credit toward future rides with the same program. The bill also would provide five years of grants for developing and expanding driving programs….”

However, it did not pass. We need to do something. Even the Meals and Wheels program in Frederick, does not provide hot meals, to the sick and elderly, who are housebound, in certain communities. If seniors are housebound, and have no automobiles or transportation, how do they survive? Recently, parents were up in arms, about having their high school kids “walk” to school. Where is the same commitment, action and engagement for seniors?

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