It’s hard to figure when it happened – maybe it’s the revolution in health care that has many folks in the 80s and 90s looking and acting like they are in their early 70s or late 60s.
Still, the sad truth of the matter is that these older citizens, while they may feel like they are 20 years younger than they are and may even act it, are still chronologically where they are and at these ages bodies just break down.
No, they haven’t invented to cryogenic program that was promised years ago so that if you became sick all they would do is drop you in a vat of liquid nitrogen and then lower your body temperature. Between you and me, this looks like a load of what Col. Sherman T. Potter of MASH 4077 used to call “horse hockey.”
So, there’s no way around it. We are going to age and as we age our ability to drive does diminish most of us will probably go kicking and screaming into this transitional phase of our lives. After all, we were the blessed generation; the “Boomers,” we wouldn’t age gracefully; we would use our Tae-Kwan-Doh or Yoga or whatever and we would be the first generation in the history of this ball of mud we call earth to actually ward off the effects of aging.
Really, we were the people who “couldn’t trust anyone over 30” when we were in our 20s and then that moved to 40 and then 50 and so on. And, we really didn’t have to worry about aging, either because somehow, somewhere, somebody was looking with favor on us, keeping us young.
Well, my friends, I have to tell you that if you believe this load of stuff, then I have some land to sell you near Cape Canaveral. Of course, it’s only visible twice a day, when the tide turns low, but you can anchor a pontoon house there, right and float up with the tide. But, let me see, you can’t own the water so you don’t have the right to just sit there waiting for low-tide to visit so we could “own” our homes again.
Our empty-headed thinking and hurtling around from pillar to post to keep ourselves young, while laudable, won’t prevent Nature from doing what is inevitable, aging us. We can try to stay in shape, but it gets harder and as my own MD said, “All that work and you’ll maybe get another 15 minutes…”
His tone was ironic, but his message wasn’t. We have to prepare for our own aging. To put this in perspective, I’m at the front end of the Baby Boom. The back-enders are the ones who fight aging the hardest. This is because they were born at the 1963/64 end of the line so they are still in their mid-40s, an age when we make pacts with whatever deities we worship to keep us healthy.
The interesting point of all of this, though, is that those folks in the 80s and 90s are in the best shape they have ever been in and believe they may just go on forever – or at least until the next PolyGrip commercial.
The natural course of this is that even while these folks – Boomer Parents — don’t feel aged, they are. Their eyesight is blurred, unless they just picked up new eyeglasses. Their reflexes just aren’t what they used to be, some can be easily confused. Yet, even with all of this, these folks refuse to even consider putting down the car keys and letting someone else drive.
Yes, I know that driving is the ultimate form of freedom. It sets you free and keeps you from being a burden to someone else, in your own mind. But, let’s look at something you may not want to hear.
According to several studies dome by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the two classes of drivers with the highest per capita accident rate and rate of serious injuries are those drivers between 16 and about 19 and those over 85.There it has been said and it has been statistically proven. No, it’s not something that any of us wants to admit. And as Boomer Parents live longer today than ever before, they are even less likely to admit it.
So, what happens is they blithely drive down the road, causing horrific accidents that are never their fault. It’s always a problem with the car or it’s a problem with other drivers who won’t yield or it’s a problem with …
You can see where this is headed and so can we and so can the grieving grandfather whose four-year-old daughter was cut down in front of his eyes by a 94-year-old driver, whose husband, by the way, was killed in an accident she caused over 20 years ago.
Today, in a plea deal, the driver received 7 year’s probation and cannot apply for a license.. Her own attorney says she’s through driving (whether of not that’s true only time or the police will tell). So, she was convicted of manslaughter and bargained her way out of jail. I hope she sleeps well at night because it’s likely the four-year-old’s granddad isn’t sleeping at all. He’s just grieving his loss, as his family.
This is not a new story, either. Daily older drivers are finding their “accelerator” stuck or the brakes failing and people are getting killed and injured.
Maybe it’s time to admit that when you hit 85 it’s time for someone else to drive. You’re just not the same person you were, even at 80. I know pride keeps many elders on the road later than they should be. It’s a problem that’s likely to be exacerbated over the next 20 years or so as the “ageless” Boomers reach their own maturities, we’ll just have to see what happens.
But, if past is prolog, I’m willing to bet that if you think things age ugly now, they’ll just be getting worse.