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Staying Mobile After Retirement: Tips for Overcoming Driving Challenges

Portrait of his he nice attractive cheerful cheery glad funny bearded grey-haired man sitting in bag chair having fun holding in hands steering wheel isolated over blue pastel color background

Not everyone has the same experience after retirement. Some continue to live their lives as if nothing much has changed, some might move in with family for extra support, and some might choose to live in a retirement community.

Those who choose to age in place may find that their quality of life improves — especially with recent advances in technology. In addition, many older adults still enjoy the independence that comes with owning a car and being able to drive themselves whenever and wherever they want to.

That said, some may experience challenges while driving as they enter their golden years in life. In this article, we will address some of these challenges and offer tips on how you can retain your independence and continue driving as you age beyond retirement. 

Driving Challenges After Retirement

As you age, your body changes in ways that can affect your ability to drive safely. This includes losses in vision, impaired hearing, and slower motor functions. Many seniors also suffer from stiff joints and muscles and arthritis, which can make it difficult to manage steering a car and reacting promptly.

Some medications given to seniors for certain health conditions can also affect their ability to drive safely by causing them to feel drowsy, less alert, and lightheaded. Chronic injury and illness can also create added challenges when driving, and as a senior, you will be more likely to start dealing with these chronic issues.

A chronic injury or illness can make it difficult to sit for long periods of time — it can make it more challenging for you to focus, and it can also limit your mobility, making it harder to sit comfortably in a car and handle the steering and gas pedals. 

All of this is not said to deter you from driving, but rather to help you understand the challenges you might face so you can overcome them and still remain mobile. 

Tips for Staying Mobile After Retirement

Like anyone else, senior drivers must take certain steps to ensure safe driving, and because of the added challenges they face, this might mean taking extra steps. Still, it is very possible to continue driving for many years after retirement.

To help you stay mobile, we’ve gathered a few tips and advice for navigating driving as an older adult:

1. The Right Car Insurance

First, if you haven’t already, it may be worth considering switching to a different car insurance, as you may find better rates due to senior discounts or a shorter (or nonexistent) commute. There are many insurance options available today — some of which are more beneficial for seniors.

For example, if you are driving fewer miles now, you can likely find insurance coverage that offers discounts to seniors who don’t drive as much. You can also find savings if you purchase a new car with advanced safety features. 

If you aren’t sure which insurance to choose, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A friend or family member can sit down with you and help you shop around for the right car insurance for seniors for the right price.

2. Consider a Senior-Friendly Vehicle

Thanks to advances in technology, there are now many different cars on the market that offer advanced safety features that can help seniors stay mobile and safer while driving. It’s worth considering an upgrade to one of these vehicles if you want to continue having the independence of driving.

Some features to look for in these senior-friendly cars include:

  • Backup cameras
  • Blindspot warnings
  • Lane assist
  • Collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Wider door openings
  • Power-adjusted seats
  • Wider windshields

No matter what features you find in your vehicle, prioritize your comfort and safety above all else.

3. Upgrade Your Current Vehicle With Assistive Devices

If purchasing a brand new car is out of your price range, you can also add assistive devices to make your current vehicle more accessible. An assist bar, for example, can make getting in and out of the car easier. There are also assist straps that you can hang from the window to help when you bend down and stand up to get in and out of the car.

A swivel seat cushion is another option, which makes turning so you can swing your feet out of the vehicle easier. You can even take that a step further and get a valet seat, which is a powered seat that can fully extend outside of the car, making it easier to sit down or transfer from a wheelchair. 

4. Take a Defensive Driving Course

The longer you drive, the more you get comfortable with driving. However, in some cases, this also means that some people start to forget some of the things they were taught when they were first learning how to drive. To refresh your memory and help you stay sharp while driving, it’s worth considering taking a driving course, especially one that teaches you defensive driving.

5. Avoid Driving at Night

Night vision tends to get worse as you get older and you might also find that you suffer from fatigue more as the day comes to a close. For this reason, it might be best to avoid driving at night as much as possible. This is not to say that you cannot ever drive at night, but the risk of getting into an accident may increase due to the added challenges that come with night driving.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, there are also other options for staying mobile if you can’t or do not want to drive. Public transportation is continually improving, and becoming more accessible for seniors. You can also rely on friends and family to give you a ride when you need to get around. Some areas also offer local transportation for seniors, particularly those who are disabled.

On the other side of things, if you feel that your right to drive is being taken away from you without your consent, then you can also seek legal counsel. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for seniors to be taken advantage of and have their rights taken away. If you feel this is happening to you, do not hesitate to reach out for senior legal assistance.

Written By

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, aging, wellness, and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

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