Senior Living Q & A: Adjusting to life without a car

A reader recently contacted me asking for copies of the series of articles I wrote in May 2009 regarding transportation options once one has given up driving. Here is the first of that series. The other two will follow in the coming weeks.

Q. I recently gave up driving when I finally admitted that my reaction time had slowed down to a point where it was no longer safe for me to be behind the wheel. Can you give me some tips on how to make this adjustment? I feel like I am trapped at home.

Like any change, adjusting to life without a car will be tough at first. Some tips on making the transition include:

First of all, be proud that you made that decision yourself. Many people wait until after they have had an accident to stop driving.

Next, you need to find other ways to get around so that you are not stuck at home.

Reach out and connect to new people, many of whom may offer rides.

Be sure to continue your usual activities. Continuing with routines can be very soothing.

Make a schedule. Plan activities on a weekly basis and match up the best ride for the activity. Some activities, like doctor’s appointments, require punctuality, and others, like going to the grocery store, may be more flexible.

Investigate home delivery. Find out which services deliver and learn to use the Internet for shopping.

Plan for fun. You must think beyond “needs” when planning your transportation schedule. Outings for church and social events are just as important.

Help develop or revive hobbies to do while riding, such as reading, knitting, or crossword puzzles. You may find that you enjoy the ride more when you don’t have to drive.

Use positive language to describe your situation and to ask for assistance. Thinking about this transition as one that you can handle will help you to adjust quickly.

Remember how good it made you feel when you gave a ride to a friend who didn’t drive. Remembering that feeling and wanting to share it may make it easier for you to ask others for a ride.

Next week I will discuss the various options for transportation available in our area.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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