The internet is overflowing with articles about all the benefits of the self-driving car. That innocent looking go-kart pictured above promises to change everything – not only how we drive, but how we live.
Imagine a world with…
- no more accidents
- self-driving cars eliminate them entirely
- no more pedestrian injuries
- cars would see everyone coming and stop for them
- no more drunk driving
- enough said!
- no more speed limits
- if cars could be perfectly safe at 180km/h then why have speed limits?
- no more commuting
- you could sleep while your car drove you around!
- no more curbs
- why would we need them if every car drove straight?
- no more stoplights
- cars will stop on their own!
- no more owning a car
- would you want to own one if you can just order it on your phone?
- no more gas stations
- if cars could drive away and charge on their own wouldn’t we all want electric cars?
These bullets are only the tip of the iceberg – and many of these changes are so profound that the ripples will affect much more than just how we travel.
But with all that being said, I don’t think enough has been said about one of the groups of people who I think will benefit most from this new technology – the elderly.
The reason is simple:
For most people the self-driving car is convenient. But for seniors, it’s empowering.
My team and I work with many seniors who fight very hard every day to maintain their independence and their car becomes a visible symbol of that fight. This means that often they will fight to keep their licenses and their vehicles long after their ability to drive the car has deteriorated.
They do this for many good reasons. First because the car is a symbol of the personal power and independence that they feel they are losing. Second because giving up your car often means so much more. It means giving up going out for coffee, giving up visiting friends, and giving up going out for groceries. It’s a very sensitive subject and one that touches a nerve with almost every client and family I work with.
But the self-driving car has the potential to give back to my clients that thing that they value most – the ability to get around on their own.
This technology would, in one move, return all of the independence and power to seniors that were taken away when they were forced to give up their keys.
The benefits go well beyond just mobility. I know from having worked with clients who have been forced to stop driving that losing your driver’s license can be a trigger for serious health issues such as depression, anxiety, isolation, and poor nutrition.
I love reading about technologies like this because they are a great example of how simple changes can dramatically alter how we care for seniors (check out our resources page to find some other interesting articles about technology and seniors). These ideas have the ability to allow seniors to do much more than they are able to do today and at a much lower cost than the solutions that exist now.
This is all great news but it’s not the end of the story. While the self-driving car provides answers to the issues the elderly have with transportation, big questions still remain, such as how can technology can help us to allow seniors to age at home without spending the high costs required to have caregivers there 24/7? I don’t think the answers to those questions are here yet…but I believe they are coming!
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the article or if you are currently caring for a senior and looking to connect with us to learn more about how we can help, please give us a call, we would love to chat!