Just as it is wise to make financial plans before retiring, it is good to think about transportation issues before driving becomes a challenge. A big part of quality of life in our later years will have to do with how connected we can stay with the community and the services that we will need and want. Below are some things to think about when looking ahead to time when driving may be more difficult or not an option at all.
For Yourself and Your Family
- Start thinking and talking about your current and future transportation needs and those of your family, friends and neighbors.
- Build transportation issues into planning for your future; where and how you want to live, what you want to be able to do as you age.
- Create a Personal Transportation Plan for yourself and other family members that assume that driving will not always be the right answer. This plan should include a budget for non-driving transportation. Remember, you probably already have significant transportation expenses, including car payments, (or depreciation), fuel costs, insurance, maintenance, etc. (estimated total annual expenses associated with owning a car are usually between $4,000 and $9,000 per year).
- Try out various non-driving forms of transportation. See where you can walk or bike to from home. Ride a bus, if available. Car pool. Find out about local transportation options at www.miamivalleyridefinder.org
- Keep your driving skills sharp. There are multiple assessments, exercises and tips for adjusting driving habits that can keep many people safely behind the wheel for a long time. Many available through AAA and AARP
For the Larger Community
- If you are a good, safe driver, offer rides to family members, friends and neighbors who have limited transportation options. Often, those rides can be combined with your own trips to common destinations like the grocery, drugstore or the mall. You may volunteer a few hours of your time to take someone to the doctor, to visit the hospital or go out to eat. This can be a very simple and rewarding form of volunteerism. Any ride that can be provided through “informal volunteering” gets someone where they need to go and takes a little pressure off of limited public and non-profit resources.
- Consider a formal volunteer commitment through an existing community ride service. It's a great way to help people and serves a real need in the community.
- Investigate the possibility of your service club, church or community center starting a volunteer-based ride service if none exists in your area. Information on starting a volunteer program is available through Easter Seals, the Beverly Foundation and other organizations.
Encourage local government to make communities more “walkable” and not so completely dependent on automobiles. This includes constructing sidewalks or paved trails and allowing for mixed use zoning, where stores and restaurants are close enough to residences that people can actually walk to places they want to go. Learn more about making your community more walkable at the National Complete Streets Coalition website.