In the past several weeks it seems like I have been deluged with cases involving senior citizens who need to give up there driving privileges. My own Mother is 91 and still independent. Yet, she had enough common sense to relinquish the keys when she realized her age and the effects of her medications could cause her to have an accident. We live in such an auto-dependent society that most seniors don’t take charge of the fact that memory impairment coupled with the effect of medications can impair visual -spacial abilities, reaction time, and concentration behind the wheel.
As a senior living advisor, I have collected copies of the transportation schedules from over 400 communities. Many of the retirement communities offer transportation options that are quite flexible and could be a saving grace in a child’s quest to encourage a parent to stop driving. My REAL LIFE STORY exemplifies how retirement community transportation may help in that regard.
REAL LIFE STORY
My clients were the children of elderly parents who were seeking placement in an independent living community. The parents were living in their own home and appeared to be independent. Yet, each had serious issues that needed to be considered. One parent was ambulatory, but had serious memory issues. The answers to a “mini-mental,” examination that I administered to the parent were incorrect. (Who is the President? What season of the year is it? Do you remember your age?) This particular parent was assuming all the driving responsibilities for the couple. The other parent did not have memory issues but walked with an assistive device. One parent (who reportedly had no sense of direction), was providing the navigation while the parent with memory impairment drove.
The children wanted to place them in independent living, but the parents’ transportation requirements were quite restrictive. They had a long-standing relationship with a particular physician, and wanted to keep it. Therefore, they needed to be in close proximity to the hospital where the Doctor had admission privileges. There were not too many reputable places that provided continuing care for my clients in the vicinity of the hospital. My suggestion was that the children consider two Continuing Care Retirement Communities that would fit their transportation needs if the children could convince them to give up the car keys.
The first community was about a fifteen minute drive from the hospital. It offered all levels of care in case assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing would be necessary down the road (no pun intended). The community bus be able to transport them to the hospital at no charge. But, they also had an extensive volunteer program where the independent seniors who lived at the community would transport them on a voluntary basis. There would only be a charge for the gas. In the case of the second community, the bus would be able to transport the elderly couple for a $10.00 charge per person on a round trip basis. In addition, both communities had regularly scheduled shopping trips to the local grocery and big box stores. So in this scenario, there was no reason for the couple to keep the car.
My work involving this case is not finished. We have visited the communities and now it is time to get them to commit to a move So, in other words, my work has just begun. Stay tuned!