Giving up driving leads to social isolation

By: John Milford.  Updated: September 17, 2021.


Problem description

The problem

Due to safety concerns, people who have a decline in night vision begin to lose connections with friends and interest groups because they no longer feel safe driving after dark. For personal or economic reasons, they resist becoming transport dependent – hence choosing to stay home alone.

Who has the problem?

Older adults who are otherwise active and independent, who own and drive their own car, but who have begun to lose connections with friends and interest groups that meet after dark

What are their aspirations (relating to this problem)?

To be able to feel safe driving during hours of darkness - to maintain their independence and social connections.


 I know a number of older adults who are otherwise active and independent, usually living in their home alone.

Background details

Today’s solutions:

  1. Give up driving after dark and choose between transport dependency or increasing isolation. 
  2. Move to a community living setting, where socialization and activities are part of the daily program.
  3. Continue driving, ignoring the safety implications, despite functional decline. 

Note on driving despite functional decline:

The result is in the news daily – a car hurtling through a store front or down a sidewalk - driven by an elder who lacks the safety awareness to stop driving until confusion leads to a panic reflex in which they hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

Hear this problem discussed below

from Aging in Place Technologies: Co-creating the Future of Aging Meetup, April 16, 2014.

The group discussed this idea, as well as some possible "solutions". 


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