Look Ma no hands


elderlyBy Joy Loverde

If you like to listen to TED Talks as much as I do then you might have come across the lecture by Bran Ferren and his presentation, “To create for the ages, let's combine art and engineering.”

When Bran Ferren was nine years old his parents took him to see the Pantheon in Rome — and it changed everything. In that moment, he began to understand how the tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, design and beauty. Ever since then he's been searching for a convincing modern-day equivalent to Rome's masterpiece. At the end of his TED Talk is a brilliant suggestion for the next big leap for mankind - the autonomous vehicle.

The reason I bring up the topic of mobility has everything to do with the sad state of affairs we are in right now as it relates to older drivers.

A survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance (1,000 adults aged 75 and older) reveals that despite declining physical abilities, the majority of drivers get behind the wheel regularly: 16 percent saying they tire easily or have slow reaction times; 13 percent reporting difficulty seeing or hearing; and 9 percent reporting getting lost and/or feeling confused while driving.

On the other hand there is some good news, and that is 85 percent of the people surveyed said they have avoided at least some type of driving condition or location, including driving after dark, during heavy traffic hours or in unfamiliar areas.

We all know the drill. People of all ages can’t even begin to think about the idea of life without driving. Losing independence, becoming less active, difficulty finding alternative forms of transportation, and feeling isolated is to be avoided at all costs. Looking to the near future of autonomous vehicles offers great hope in solving this human dilemma – and they can’t get here soon enough.

In the meantime, have the conversation with your parents about driving and alternatives to driving. Check out the talking tips in the “Transportation and Mobility” chapter in The Complete Eldercare Planner. The transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat is gradual, and understanding available transportation alternatives will help older drivers maintain their independence, mobility and social engagement essential for a quality of life.

When everybody becomes responsible and makes plans to retire from driving, wonderful and unexpected things will come out of it. You can be sure of that.



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