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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Driving Home: A Transition For Older Drivers

       On October 15th of this year, my birthday, I became 71-years-old.   I was notified about two months ago that I would need to come in to get my driver’s license renewed.  I was afraid.  What if “they” were going take my license away? My wife Elizabeth, assured me that it would be a formal procedure, just like past renewals. Why was I afraid, after all five years ago I fought mandatory retirement at the University and was able to stay on?
       Buttoning up my fear, I went in to have my license renewed. It was a straight forward process, just like all the times since I was 16 and proudly earned my first license.  As I left the building, after filling out the paperwork, I gave a deep sigh, got in my car and drove home.

        Research studies of have found that “driving cessation can result in unfavourable outcomes including:
·           Increased depressive symptoms
·           Decreased community engagement
·           Isolation and
·           Safety risks associated with alternative transport use

       Research, conducted in Australia has explored the process and outcomes of driving cessation.  For instance “Driving in the past comprises the early history of driving that shapes the meaning and identity that an individual attaches to driving.”   Loss of driving is not only a life transition it is a practical loss.  For instance the research notes that retired drivers spend less time with their social networks and are more likely to stay home, expressing lower life satisfaction.

       In Australia occupational therapy researchers have developed the UQDRIVE program to help support retiring drivers.  It is based on three principles:
·        Empowerment of older people
·        Phases of Driving cessation and
·        Individuality of experience

        The program includes an “intensive support program developed as a group format delivered to between 8 and 15 retiring or retired drivers for 3 to 4 hrs per week for 6 weeks and includes topics like:

  • Driving in later life
  •  Experiences of retiring from driving and
  • Adjusting to losses and changes
       I hope we have something like that around here.  If we do, I’m sure someone will let us know.

For more info go to:  www.uqdrive@

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