Elderly drivers are under pressure to stop or curtail driving. But no one is advising how they can otherwise get around. The implicit suggestion is that they should move to where they don’t need a car, not an acceptable option for many. So what to do when we need a ride to an appointment, the grocery store, or an exercise class? We know there are people we can call but we aren’t always comfortable asking. Or the person is not always available. If you ask your own kids for a ride it might start that dreaded “you should really consider moving…” conversation and who needs that? So what to do? The answer is not obvious, but it is simple: be accommodating and consider what YOU can do – for yourself and for your driver – to avoid being a burden. Here are several steps to finding that ride when you need it:
1. Flexibility. Be ready to accept a ride when your friend is going to the store and be prepared to be taken to THEIR supermarket, not yours.
2. Convenience. Be ready when your ride arrives, perhaps sitting on the front porch as they drive up. Plan ahead by asking when someone will be going to the store next or find out when a friend is available to drive before making an appointment. Don’t expect a neighbor with school-aged children to be available to drive you during school vacation week or after school hours.
3. Humility. Yes, it can be humiliating to have to admit to a doctor’s assistant that you have to check when you can get a ride before making an appointment. But it is a small price to pay for making sure you get to the appointment when you need to. Also, it can feel humiliating to have someone help us out of the car or carry our groceries. But this might speed things up for the driver and thus make it easier for them to help you out. Remember, it is their time you are borrowing.
4. Attitude. Don’t kvetch about going to an unfamiliar store or the slow cashier. Don’t feel you have to fill silences while in the car. Always say “thank you” even if you know they know you are grateful. Find small ways to show your gratitude; perhaps leave them with a small, thoughtful gift for their child or a couple of muffins that you picked up while at the store. Leave them feeling glad they helped you out!
5. Reciprocity. Maybe you can sign for a furniture delivery or meet a repairman when they can’t be home. Maybe you can water plants while they are away. You can also pay it forward by offering your services to others you CAN help through your own volunteer efforts. It always feels good when you know the person you’re helping does the same for someone else. Following these simple rules will get you where you want to go – and maybe even strengthen an existing relationship!