Category Archives: Elderly Emotions
Every senior dreads the day they lose their independence by having to give up their driver’s license. The safety of the driver and the community may be at stake. However, it doesn’t have to be that hard. There are alternatives to driving to make the transition easier.
Reasons to give up a driver’s license
- Having issues seeing.
- Have prescription lenses? Make sure they are up to date before you make this decision. Consulting an optometrist about your vision is vital. If you don’t wear corrective lenses, they may encourage you to do so. An optometrist may also find other ocular issues, such as cataracts or glaucoma.
- Cannot see clearly at night, you may only need to restrict your driving to during the day.
- Having trouble focusing on the road. A doctor may recommend other alternatives such as prescriptions.
- Response Time
- Response time is delayed consistently for long enough to cause issues.
- Having issues hearing.
- Have a hearing aid? Get it checked to make sure it’s tuned correctly and the batteries are working well. If you don’t wear a hearing aid, you may consider looking into it.
- Visit a doctor about your hearing issues. Other alternatives, such as wax blockage may be the reason you are having hearing issues.
- Tremors or Limb Weakness
- Have tremors or weakness in your limbs. This may impair your ability to stop or control the car safely.
- Prescription Medication
- Take regular prescription medication that may impair your judgement, cause drowsiness or hallucinate.
- Visit a doctor. There may be medication alternatives.
Signs it’s time to let go
- Drifting into other lanes
- Unable to merge
- Increase in dents or dings in your vehicle
- Increase in traffic incidences
- Inability to properly judge how much space you need to brake
- Unable to see the lines in the road
- Increased fear
- Trouble pushing the gas or brakes
- Trouble turning the steering wheel
- Having more “close calls” than you did when you were younger
- Collisions with non-moving objects (sings, barriers, mailboxes, parked vehicles)
How to surrender your driver’s license
This can be done at your local DMV. However, you will need a State Issued ID for other purposes. Your local DMV Driver’s License division may require you to make an appointment.
Remember to have someone take you, as when you leave you shouldn’t drive as you no longer will have a valid license.
Benefits of Giving Up Your License
The obvious benefit to giving up your driver’s license is driver and community safety. However, many people don’t realize how much it actually cost to have a vehicle. When you’re on a fixed income after retirement, some welcome the much needed savings.
According to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study, an average vehicle driven up to 15,000 miles a year costs $8,398. This cost includes things such as fuel, tires, maintenance and repairs, taxes, license, registration fees, insurance premiums, depreciation, interest/financing.
Depending on your driving record, your vehicle size, how often you drive it, your costs can be higher than the average noted in the AAA study. The cost broken down is about $725 a month, what could you do with that extra money in your account?
So what can be done if driving is no longer an option?
- Public Transportation
- Buses. Every major and even most smaller cities have buses. Libraries and local city buildings usually carry schedules.
- Taxis. This is more readily available in larger cities. Smaller cities usually have taxi services, you just have to call for a pickup.
- Much like a taxi service, you have transportation at the palm of your hand with these apps for your smart phone.
- Most car rides are things down the street. Why not walk instead.
- This is a low cost option for anyone who needs to go out. Tricycle offer more stability than tradition bicycles and are usually free standing. Tricycles also can accommodate a larger basket size so you can take your pet with you or tote around groceries.
- Many cities offer a paratransit option. This means if you are unable to drive due to disability, you can get picked up and dropped off for a small fee. You will need to call your local transportation office to see if you qualify and set it up.
- Golf Carts
- Smaller towns or private communities often allow you to use golf carts or atvs to get around in town. The benefit to this is most of them drive at a much slower pace. Some states will require you to have a license whether you are on public or private roads, you should ask when you are at the DMV. Check with your local police or city for rules.
- Transportation Services
- Most counties area on aging and senior centers can recommend transportation services for specific needs. You can find their number online, most city offices will have this information as well.
-Written by Valerie Michel Buck
Written by Anne Garrow
When we think of addiction our thoughts typically turn to the younger generation; those who are inexperienced, easily led and looking for a good time. We don’t tend to think of Grandma or Grandpa, who are by default older and wiser, falling prey to the devastating financial, emotional and physical consequences of becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or internet use.
But research shows that age means little when it comes to developing an addiction and that addiction in the elderly is becoming so prevalent that experts are now labelling it ‘the invisible epidemic’. If you are a senior citizen who feels that they may be developing a dependency on a certain substance or habit then this article might help you to recognise this and seek the appropriate help.
Drinking and drugs
Studies indicate that there are a reported 2.5 million ‘older adults’ with drink and drug related problems in the US and almost 50% of nursing home residents have some sort of alcohol dependency. Alcohol is an extremely addictive substance and some experts believe that what starts out as an innocent drink to dispel feelings of boredom or isolation can develop into something more sinister over time. The same applies to prescription medicine. Unsurprisingly, senior citizens are the leading age group when it comes to taking long term medication and certain substances such as painkillers or anti-anxiety medication can become extremely addictive over time.
The danger is that elderly people tend to be far less tolerant of the effects of alcohol and drugs than the younger generation. They may become drunker quicker, putting themselves at risk of accident or injury. In later life the brain cells that can be destroyed by heavy drinking (causing unpleasant hangover headaches) no longer regenerate so this can lead to cognitive issues too, not to mention the physical effects on the liver and stomach.
Games such as bingo or black jack are not uncommon pastimes in senior citizens but studies warn that serious gambling is becoming a destructive hobby for many elderly people. One report goes as far as to suggest that casinos are deliberately preying on the elderly by offering free lunch coupons, drug discounts and easy accessibility to the elderly. All of which is thought to contribute to the shocking statistics that reveal senior citizens are the fastest population of gamblers with 70% of them gambling in the past year alone.
Any person of any age can get addicted to the thrill of gambling. Studies suggest that winning produces a similar brain reaction to that of taking cocaine – the ultimate high. But when they are losing, addicts feel desperate to recoup their losses and the nature of this vicious cycle has seen senior citizens gambling away their food money, estates and inheritance for their families. The study also examines the link between dementia – a degenerative condition fairly common the elderly and known to affect inhibitions and judgement calls – to the rise in gambling in the older generation.
The internet can be a useful tool for elderly people who sometimes, due to health issues, are unable to get out and about as much as they’d like. The internet gives them the opportunity to have face to face conversations with family and friends, do their shopping or otherwise entertain themselves without even leaving the house. But over time this useful aid can manifest into dependency and other worrying activities such as disengagement from ‘real life’, compulsive spending and online gambling. There have also been a lot of high profile cases of older people being duped by ‘love interests’ they meet online, not to mention them being more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety which are generally linked to social withdrawal.
Many addicts struggle to admit that they have a problem and even when they do, asking for help can be a daunting prospect. For elderly people who may think that they ‘should have known better’ it can be even more difficult. But seeking help is the only way to improve the damaging situations that addiction can land you in. Speak to trusted friends, family members or your doctor who may be able to refer you to a therapist specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which aims to alter the distorted thought processes that leads to the addictive behaviour. Some elderly people who get pleasure from gambling, online activity or substance abuse might have a ‘lifes too short’ attitude but being an addict is no way to live your life at any age. Seek help and enjoy a healhier and happier life.
Recovery.org, Seniors and substance abuse: the invisible epidemic, accessed 19.08.16
NCADD, Alcohol, drug dependency and seniors, accessed 19.08.16
AC Psych, Alcohol and older people, accessed 19.08.16
Salon, How the gambling industry preys on senior citizens, accessed 19.08.16
Social Work Today, High risk recreation: gambling problems in older adults, accessed 19.08.16
Journal of addiction research and therapy, Problematic internet use in older adults, accessed 19.08.16
American addiction centers, CBT and addiction treatment, accessed 19.08.16