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Teens who get behind the wheel of a car are often scrutinized, criticized and in some cases temporarily lose their driving privileges, but they get over it eventually. Older folks, however, can have a hard time when their kids decide it is time to take away their car keys, according to the Association of Mature American Citizens.
So, when do you know it is time for your mom or dad to find another way to get around and how do you tell them? The UMass Gerontology Institute explored the topic at a recent meeting held in Boston at which one 85-year-old described how it felt when his family got together and convinced him to give up his car. He said he experienced “a sense of loss” of his identity and independence. But, he said, “then again, you don’t want to be responsible for hurting someone.”
Lissa Kapust is a founding clinician of the Center for Cognitive Neurology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She said: “We have occasionally had people threaten to hurt family members who said they were not safe to drive. You get the range of emotions, from people who say they refuse to stop driving, to those who are unhappy but swallow the bitter pill.”
The great majority of American seniors live in suburbs and rural areas. Many of them have limited access to public transportation and, thus, become dependent on friends and family in order to get around, notes AMAC, adding that for the time being it is a problem with no easy solution.