by Bonnie Boyce-Wilson
As the old saying goes, “You never miss the water till the well runs dry.” And nothing could be more true than when it comes to the privilege of driving. We jump into our cars at any time—at our convenience, with no need for planning ahead. Then, suddenly, the unplanned happens: a fall, an accident, a stroke, or an outpatient surgery leaves us without the ability to drive. We are immediately plunged into a dependence on others for transportation. Now we can’t go when we want, we are subject to someone else’s schedule.
Vivian is an exception to the fact that most folks do not plan ahead. No one even hinted that she was a poor driver, but she avoided freeway driving for more than a year and made a decision to stop driving when she turned 90. Loss of independence is a big disincentive to giving up driving as you may not be able to go when and where you want. But the positive side is giving up vehicle maintenance, buying gas and tires, trips to the repair shop, renewing a driver’s license, and paying for insurance. Vivian’s friends who still drive may not remember that she does not drive, so they forget to offer rides or pick up something from the store for her.
Lee had an auto accident and realized her reflexes were slower and reaction time longer. As she turned 90, people kept asking, “Are you still driving?” When she told her doctor she had some dizziness, the doctor told her to stop driving. Lee agreed. She did not want to hurt herself or someone else. But she found it difficult to ask for help. Friends offer transportation, but it is on their schedule, although sometimes there is a common destination, like a meeting or church.
Lorraine is beginning to have vision problems with a loss of peripheral vision. She is anticipating making the decision herself to stop driving. She has used Dial-A-Ride successfully and it is economical, especially so because she lives in Surprise where fees are lower because the City helps pay.
These are real-life examples of women who stop driving. Their struggle to maintain independence could get a big assist from Northwest Valley Connect (NVC). Since 2014, NVC has been connecting rides for senior residents of the West Valley. With their Call-Click-Connect Mobility Center and Ride Connect volunteer driver program, it has never been easier to find a ride when you need one. They even offer monthly Group Connect trips to shopping centers. If you are in need of transportation, visit www.northwestvalleyconnect.flywheelsites.com or call 623-282-9300.