By Gina Millette, ICP client and donor
I’ve spent most of my 27 retirement years volunteering for two senior groups. In the process, I’ve noticed a number of seniors who, in my opinion, drove too long when it was quite obvious that the roads weren’t safe when they were behind the wheel. I vowed not to become one of them and, as often as possible, I tried to offer assistance by regularly promoting the AARP senior driving classes as well as ride services from Interfaith Community Partners (ICP) and the Lyons Township Senior Transportation bus.
I stopped driving 18 months ago, a little before I intended because my adult children mentioned being concerned about my driving—not because of my physical or cognizant abilities, but because of the many crazy and unsafe drivers out there. My reflexes weren’t as good as when I was younger, which can make it harder to avoid an accident. While I had hoped to be a little ahead of my “talk with the children,” I decided then to hang up my keys and avail myself of the senior ride services available in my area.
I’m happy to share that, thanks to ICP and other local services, I’m out and about several times a week for social dates and/or medical and other appointments, as well as attending my daily water aerobics class. On the rare occasion when neither of the senior ride services have been available to me, friends or family members have been able to drive me. A last resort has always been Uber or Lyft, which I’ve only needed to use twice in the 18 months since I stopped driving.
I donate to ICP monthly in gratitude for the rides they provide me to medical appointments or to the hair salon. I also support their volunteer agency because it is completely financed by contributions. I’ve now experienced firsthand the critical role senior ride service providers play in allowing older adults to make the decision to stop driving without giving up their active lives.
One more benefit of this experience has been meeting so many wonderful people who volunteer to drive seniors who need their services. Despite having volunteered for years myself, I never truly knew how comforting those friendly volunteers could be until I was the one benefiting from their kindness.