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Jordan June 16, 2014
Senior’s hands on steering wheel.

Today’s post comes to us care of Teresa Di Felice, Director of Government & Community Relations here at CAA South Central Ontario. Thanks Teresa!

My dad, Antonio, turned 79 in May. While he’s certainly slowed down over the last few years, he’s still in pretty good shape. He came to Toronto almost 60 years ago and worked hard to provide for our family. But despite what you may expect from someone that age, he and my mom are still quite active and a big help in caring for my kids. With their support, I ‘m able to work towards solving the transportation and safety issues affecting us all, setting the stage for a safer world like the one Dad provided for me.

Because of my role as a transportation advocate at CAA, the significant amount of our population entering their golden years is something that’s been on my mind both personally and professionally. We still have a lot to figure out regarding senior mobility and safety in the coming decades.

I’ve thought a lot about what my dad will do next year when he turns 80 and will need to go for relicensing under the Ministry of Transportation rules. I know he’s thought about it too, but doesn’t really talk about it.

He still drives, which I know it gives him some independence. He fixes and hauls things back and forth in his cargo minivan from his workshop to home, and while he has mentioned a time when he won’t be driving, he certainly hasn’t elaborated on it.

A few years ago I brought home a package from the seniors driving session that CAA used to host. I suggested downsizing his vehicle, but he kind of scoffed at the idea. I’ve noticed he doesn’t drive very much in bad weather or at night as much as he used to; he’s been doing what a lot of senior drivers do –regulating their behaviours. I suppose it’s because he’s begun noticing the changes in his own abilities, and in turn, his comfort and feeling of safety when he drives.

Thankfully he lives in Toronto, where there are a number of alternate transportation options available to him like public transit or even walking. My four sisters and I adjust our schedules in order to make sure we can drive he and my mom to the various places they need to get to.

CAA’s Senior’s Driving website has info about these issues for senior drivers as well as family members and caregivers like me. I love that it has practical, easy to understand information. Whether your parents are web savvy or you’re doing the research yourself and sparking the conversation, this website will really help.

My next step is having a more formal conversation, not just passing comments, about relicensing. I don’t want to alarm dad or make him lack confidence as a driver, but I want to make sure he is safe or prepared for whatever comes next. He made a comment once about giving up driving but that may be just because he has a fear of the relicensing process – a concern we hear a lot about from senior drivers.

I want to make sure he has all the information he needs, whether it’s preparation on relicensing, CAA’s senior driving refresher course, etc., in order to make whatever decision he makes easier. But I know we have to have the conversation. If he does plan to give up the keys, that means a family discussion on what we can do to support he and my mom with their mobility and independence.

We’re fortunate that most of our family lives in Toronto. Others have more challenges, particularly if they live away from their loved ones or if their senior driver lives somewhere that doesn’t have many other transportation options, and the needs of life aren’t within walking or cycling distance.

Know this: at CAA, we are faced with the same life situations you are, and we’re working hard to help bring information and solutions to the forefront to address those needs.

Visit the website, talk to your loved ones, be informed and prepared.