Aug 26, 2010 12:53 AM by Andy Koen
Marguerite Groves is 100 years old, lives in Security and just last month got her drivers license renewed. These days she limits her trips to places close to home like the Fountain Valley Senior Center. But a couple of years back, when she was 94, Marguerite did the all driving during a road trip with a friend from Colorado Springs to Ohio.
"My neighbor Debbie, she takes me to the doctor and to the grocery and any other things that I have to do that's very far away."
Marguerite is living proof that there's no right answer to the question of how old is too old to drive.
Elizabeth Stead, a licensed clinical social worker with AspenPointe, formerly Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group, says there is no definite age at which a person should stop driving.
"You cannot say that no one over 65 or over 85 can drive," Stead said. "You really have to take that individually."
Still, AAA Colorado reports that other than teenagers, seniors over the age of 65 are involved in the most crashes per mile driven.
Last week, an 85 year old man hit the gas instead of the brakes and drove into the Satellite Hotel. On Wednesday, an 89 year old man backed out of the driveway and into his neighbor's house.
"It's our eyesight, it's our reflexes, know driving is a very complex skill and we take it for granted," said Stead.
She says losing the ability to drive shouldn't be seen as a prison sentence in your own home.
However, she adds that family members who want to encourage an elderly relative to give up the keys should recognize the emotional toll it takes on their loved one.
"For many clients it makes the very sad and feeling depressed and kind of a loss of control that they can no longer do what they did for so many years."
She recommends including an outside party, such as a counselor or minister, to be a part of the discussion of giving up driving.
"It's really hard to do on your own and it really helps when you can have that outside professional person there to help ease that a little bit."
She also says to learn about resources that are available to seniors in need of transportation services.
Tommy Barter drives for Silver Key. Anyone in Colorado Springs over the age of 60 can arrange for free transportation throught the non-profit organization.
Barter says he enjoys his work because he can see the difference that the service makes in the lives of his passengers.
"They're able to socialize, they're able to go to doctors appointments they can go grocery shopping," Barter says.
Silver Key president David Shaffer says it is the goal of his organization to empower seniors to live independently.
"We want to be there to help them through that process and we want to make sure that they're still able to have that independence and that's what our transportation addresses."
Meanwhile, Marguerite says she plans to continue driving her short trips close to home. But she insists she will know when it's time give it up.
"When I get to the point that I don't think I can drive or see, then I won't drive."