Don’t leave it too late!

Although your retired, here may still be difficult decisions ahead


So you are living in a retirement village, and think that from now on everything will be hunkey-dory. Wrong! There are difficult decisions by which many of us will be  confronted as we grow older (even in the sanctity of the village).

One such decision relates to the decision some seniors will be called upon to make in respect of giving up driving!

In respect of driving, in spite of our egos many of us as we grow older will find driving our motor vehicles, increasingly difficult. A combination of weaker co-ordination skills and diminishing vision will impact negatively on our ability to continue driving safely. Enter into any long established retirement village and you will immediately be assailed by the cacophony of competing brake and clutch pedals, as well as well as the telling odour of burnt clutch discs – as senior drivers struggle to compensate for diminishing sensory skills. (Another telling sign is the number of dents and scratches on resident’s vehicles!)


I myself voluntarily relinquished my driving licence, a few years ago due to serious vision impairment. One morning I almost ran over a traffic policeman, and,  as I drove past he shouted …. “Didn’t you bloody well see me?” To which I responded… “no”, and drove on by! (of course if you are intent on running someone over… I can think of no one more deserving or appropriate person than a traffic policeman). However I took the decision there and then to give up driving. I have now had a rare lens transplant, and am in the process of renewing my licence.


However on a slightly more serious note, to continue driving when you are incapable of doing so safely, is highly irresponsible. On that morning when I placed the traffic officer’s life at risk, I recall admonishing myself by thinking… that although I wrote books advising people on the importance of relinquishing the steering wheel when the need arose, here I was still driving – unwilling to accept my own advise!


I have a 93-year old neighbour, who continues to drive. She gets lost fairly often (even when travelling to places which she has over the years visited dozens of times before); And the other day she explained to me that there was something wrong with her car, as the steering wheel was almost impossible to turn… it was so stiff! A local mechanic examined the vehicle and told her that he could find nothing wrong with it. (She later admitted to me that she may perhaps have left the hand-brake on!) What will it take to make her give up driving? An accident in which she perhaps kills someone’s child! The decision to move across to the passenger seat is an important one, which must be made timeously!

Henry Spencer