A Re-Invented Elderly Driver
Recently, Maddy Dychtwald, co-founder of Age Wave, a research and consulting firm that studies the impact of baby boomers and mature adults on society, has identified five strategic guideposts that I believe can help the older driver become A Re-Invented Elderly Driver. The title of her article is “Be A Comeback Kid: How to Reinvent Yourself at Any Age.” I thought her ideas had a direct bearing on the elderly driver and suggested to me, at least, that an elderly driver can look forward to a long, successful and safe motoring life. Furthermore, her insights suggest that even an elderly driver whose driving skills have of late, been wanting, can change that downward slide. In short, he or she can realistically hope to become A Re-Invented Elderly Driver. Here is a summary of her insights, seen from the perspective of an elderly driver who wishes to re-invent himself.
The bar of aging has been raised
It is becoming increasingly clear that reaching the ages of 50, 60 or 70 no longer means that we are ready to be put out to pasture. We have the capacity to change and adapt, and here is the good news: it is an acquired skill. We can develop better driving skills through practice and, yes, sometimes even through failure. But we have to have enough gumption to get off our duff and move forward, even if we are unsure of what lies ahead. Society, as a whole, has accepted that the aging ceiling is now more realistically in the mid-80’s. , So, assuming we are not suffering from some irreversible and debilitating condition that can impair our driving, we can expect to drive well safely and capably for a long, long time. Even in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and, perhaps, into our 90’s, though we may experience the normal effects of aging on our sight, hearing, reaction time, and cognition, we can become A Re-Invented Elderly Driver. We can raise the ceiling of our driving age.
Missed Opportunities at Improvement are not cast in concrete
Ours does not have to be a life of “missed chances” never to be regained at the passing of certain life milestones. We elderly drivers who did not take advantage of opportunities to avoid deterioration in our driving skills and to take positive steps to improve them in our 40’s and 50’s are not necessarily doomed to stay in that downward spiral. Opportunities to improve our skills and to slow down deterioration of our physical and cognitive driving capabilities exist; all we have to do is take advantage of them. But we must ready and inclined to do so. This requires “emotional and mental flexibility and agility.” That is, we need to dodge any tendency to succumb to our current feelings and thoughts about our driving limitations. We should slough off the feelings that tell us, we can’t and reject the thoughts that cast doubts on our driving performance. In short, we need to adapt the view that our short comings are opportunities to become A Re-Invented Elderly Driver.
Dare to Try
We must adapt the attitude, I’m always game to try something new, even if it is only once. Dare to try. Dare to learn new driving strategies and techniques. Dare to find alternatives to your cognitive disabilities, to vision impairment, to reaction time sluggishness, to deficient car handling, and to poor road awareness. Dare to continue trying until you are A Re-Invented Elderly Driver. Don’t stop trying to become a re-invention of yourself.
Getting to our destination is not always on a straight line
We are not under any obligation to get to point A from point B in a given amount of time. If other elderly drivers are improving in a seemingly exponential rate and you, as the proverbial tortoise, are just trudging along apparently far from the finish, SO WHAT? Learn, develop, grow at your own pace. Run the race, but not mindlessly, rigidly, or inflexibly in step with everyone else. Have your own goals and objectives, and plan on reaching them according to your “rhythm and timing. There’s no penalty for slowing down, speeding up or starting over.”
Learning from our Missteps
There will be moments when we’ll feel like we’ve lost our way or, perhaps, made some questionable choices. That’s OK. Don’t brood over your missteps. Instead, we need to assess the damage, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and move ahead, on whatever road we choose. The important thing to remember is that we can learn even more from our missteps than from our successes. Such lessons are sure to help us become A Re-Invented Elderly Driver!
- Older Drivers Can be Trained to Avoid Car Crashes (tricitypsychology.com)