Balfour’s Founder & CEO, Michael Schonbrun, shares a few thoughts on retirement and transportation.
Although the ability to safely handle an automobile varies substantially by individual, recent studies report that many elderly Americans are significantly outliving the ability to drive safely – 10 years for women, 7 years for men.
Confiscating a senior’s car keys ranks high on the list of emotional traumas for any family. Yet, the decision to separate an elder from his/her car is often the right one, not only saving them from a serious accident, but also protecting the public from harm.
Choosing to give up driving or having an intervention imposed may come at a high price – a daily existence with fewer stimulating experiences and a weakening of ties to historically important persons, places and things because travel is now more difficult.
What’s to be done? Clearly, taxis and “Uber-like” transport arrangements are available for the better-off. Family-sponsored car pools are another, though members of the “Sandwich generation” often lack the time, if not the will, for such efforts. For some seniors, a more practical solution can be moving to a city where not only is mass transit more common, but more interesting destinations can be reached on foot. Another alternative is living in a retirement community with individualized transportation options regularly provided, social interactions woven into the fabric of community life and in-house educational programming providing stimulation without travel.
Perhaps, the optimal solution involves combining several of these approaches – options worth pondering by both seniors and the families who love them and want them safe and socially and intellectually engaged.