Aging News for Senior Citizens

Harriet Kelly gives up driving and does not like it - NPR storyAging & Longevity

It’s never too soon for seniors to plan their ‘Driving Retirement’

Harriet Kelly has one word to describe the day she stopped driving four years ago: miserable.

“It’s no fun when you give up driving, I just have to say that,” she says.


Harriet Kelly, of Denver, says she hasn’t had even a fender bender since the 1960s. Still, she noticed in her 80s that her eyesight was starting to decline. So she made a plan to stop driving at 90 — and did just that.

Kelly, who lives in Denver, says she started to notice her eyesight decline in her 80s. She got anxious driving on the highway so she decided to stop before her kids made the move for her.

“I just told them I’d stop driving on my birthday, my 90th birthday, and I did. And I was mad at myself because I did it,” she says, laughing. “I thought I was still pretty good!”

Kelly is now 94. She says her last accident was in the 1960s.  But, she says, “I think it’s just better to make up your own mind than have your kids go through trying to tell you and end up with arguments and threats and everybody gets mad.”

Her daughter Leslie Kelly says she’s grateful she and her siblings didn’t have to have that tough conversation. Still, she knows it’s been tough for her mom.

“It really cut down on her ability to feel independent,” says Leslie.  Harriet chimes in, “It certainly did!”

But Kelly is a great example of planning for a “driving retirement,” says Dr. Emmy Betz, with the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

“Retirement is something that happens to all of us. Maybe we even look forward to it. You prepare for it, you make financial plans, you think about what you’re going to do,” she says.


But she says most seniors don’t do that when it comes to driving.

“It’s sort of the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, but it’s an issue that’s coming for most of us and our family members and so denial isn’t probably the most helpful option,” she says.

This story is part of a partnership that includes Colorado Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News. It can be republished for free. (details)

(Photos by John Daley/Colorado Public Radio)

Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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