Plan to quit driving

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Eventually, the day is going to come when we have to hand over our car keys and either stay home, beg a ride or call a cab.

“People who can’t drive are reluctant to ask others for assistance in getting to places that aren’t absolute necessities. They’ll ask someone to take them to a doctor’s appointment, but they are less likely to ask for a ride to a social event,” says Angela Curl, assistant professor of social work at the University of Missouri.

Curl is studying the impact of giving up driving on older people. She concludes that if you can’t drive, you probably can’t work, and while other parts of your social life don’t disappear immediately after you quit, they decline.

The average age that people stop driving is 75, Curl says. That’s much younger than people she surveyed thought they would be forced to quit. “Older adults have a tendency to think about driving cessation as something for other people, or they think of quitting driving as so far in the future, that they postpone planning,” Curl says. “When they do start thinking about quitting, it’s too late, and they’re panicked and overwhelmed.”

Curl believes that retirement planning should include figuring out how you are going to get around once you can’t drive. Things to think about include:

Can you rely on public transportation? Curl says many people who drive never consider where you get the bus or the train and whether the schedule and the stops are convenient to where you want to go. While you still have your keys, she suggests taking a few trips on public transit and see how it goes.

Is there good cab service? Cabs may seem like a luxury, Curl says, but compared to the cost of maintaining a car, buying gas and keeping insurance, even frequent cabs could be a bargain. Just factor the cost into your retirement budget.

Could you walk or ride an electric trike? Factor walkability into your choice of retirement location. If you get frail, walking still might not be a good solution, but if you start now walking daily, you may never lose that ability, Curl says.

Talk to your family. Tell them that you’re worried about not being able to get around. See if they have a solution.