Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two and a Half Months Later...

Wow! It feels great to be back in the driver's seat. Blogging, that is. I've missed it...and you!

Especially grateful now that Joan is back in the 'hood and out of the hospital. (See my last post below) She's doing as well as can be expected, thanks to her spunky attitude and the excellent condition she was in pre-accident. She still can't put weight on her feet, so she has a lot of physical therapy in store for her future.

But what a relief that she survived .... and that we can now begin to help further the healing process on her journey back to the hale and hearty Joan she once was.

I've been thinking alot lately about driving and baby-boomers. And aging. We've all become so addicted to our cars, especially in the 'burbs. Joan was waiting for a bus. The guy who hit Joan was 55, relatively young on the baby boomer spectrum. He apparently "blacked out", crossing on to oncoming traffic, over the curb and into the open area where Joan was waiting, looking the other direction for her bus. She was carried by the car 50 feet or so into her own backyard.

We've since learned If you have no previous medical condition preventing you from driving, you cannot be held liable for "blacking out" at the wheel. It's now become the plea "du jour" with such accidents.

Now, we won't all retire to gated communities and pedestrian friendly urban areas well-connected with transit options when we get older. Many of us will stay in the homes and neighborhoods we know best, relying on cars to get around as we always did. Joan was doing the right thing taking the bus to get downtown, in a safe neighborhood in the middle of the day, and she was still at the mercy of a driver who's abilities we trust will prevent such accidents.

Bus shelters need to do exactly that: shelter, especially in this rainy climate.

We need to test reaction times and do a better job of checking driving competencies as people age. When my 89-year old mother-in-law went in to renew her driver's license they checked her peripheral vision, took her 25.00 and a new picture, and that was it. Beth is probably an exception to most over-80s: she's sharp as a tack and is well aware of her limitations so she doesn't venture anywhere she doesn't know and avoids all freeway and nighttime driving. But she needs her car to get around her immediate neighborhood. A ten block walk to the coffeehouse she loves or to get the groceries she needs just isn't an option for her anymore.

Let's hear it for more options, for living, shopping and working, in our own neighborhoods. Think how much easier it would be to live above a grocery store or cafe. Drop off your drycleaning and hit the ATM, take your grandchild out for an ice cream cone and wait for the bus under the eaves outside your own front door. Sit outside and pass the time with your neighbors.

Finally, Bill Pace, local fruit stand mogul, is retired now and still keeps very active with all his volunteer activities. He probably drives more than he did when he worked the farm fulltime. A couple weeks ago a Boeing engineer heroically matched his speed to Bill's as he noticed him swerve across a couple lanes ahead of him on I405 near Valley Medical Hospital. The driver knew that by driving alongside in the shoulder and then pulling up ahead of him he could very gently provide the "cushioned landing" the unconscious Pace would need to survive the inevitable accident. It would also pull him out of the speeding traffic that surrounded him, and thereby avoid other potential injuries and perhaps deaths. (click here for Seattle Times article)

As we all age we're going to need options to the car. Sean and I have got our eyes on matching Vespa Stellas. With a sidecar on mine for the dog.


mouse (aka kimy) said...

thanks for the update on joan! so glad to hear she's doing well and making progress.

welcome back to the bloggy hood!

my brother had a similar incident where he blacked out while driving - when he was around 55! fortunately he just crashed through someone's fence and a big huge shrub stopped him and the car - he wasn't hurt. they did 'a million dollar' work up couldn't find anything (speculated perhaps very, very bad gas)

it happened early afternoon and he was heading home for a bit of lunch after a meeting. very frightening!!

good luck with the vespas! my daughter (30+) has been talking of a similar setup of scooter w/ sidecar for her and her dog! ha ha.

RobinB said...

Hi Kim! I'm sorry to hear about your brother--what a coincidence!--but glad he's well after all that. Bad gas? Him and not the car, I take it!

T. Clear said...

I loved the Bill Pace it in the Times and have been talking about it ever since. I dread getting to the point where I have to make a decision about driving, or not. In Ireland, after age 75 you're doomed to take a bus.

Glad you're back Miss RAE (Red Apple Elegy).

RobinB said...

Thanks, T! My batteries are SO recharged now!