Yesterday I took my mother-in-law to get her license renewed. She's 85, still enjoys good health and she and my father-in-law live on their own. Since he had a stroke 2 years ago, they don't have quite the same life now though. Life has a way of doing that to us, pulling the rug out from under our feet rather quickly.
Mom T's driving is mostly within a 2 mile radius of their house, up to Aldi's grocery or Walmart for the rest. I can't say I feel confident about her driving skills, but she does plan her trips for less busy times of the day. She drives slow when I am with her, a little like she's riding with the driving instructor. That's the thing about getting old, you still have tests you have to pass.
At the doctor you want to pass all those tests and get a clean bill of health. You want to keep tabs on all of your bills and commitments, not letting anything slide...that would be a sign that your memory is failing. Then when something as simple as renewing your driver's license comes around, you hope you can pass the eye test. In Arkansas there are no other tests given to senior citizens, but other states have restrictions on license renewals. Fourteen states (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Carolina) issue the license for 2 or even 1 year for those older than 80.
Mom T didn't even get her license until she was in her 40's. Like so many other women she was a stay at home Mom in the 1950's. When the weekend rolled around the whole family piled into the car and went to the grocery store. But by the late 60's, women were working outside the home and now driving was necessary. It was hard for her to learn how to drive and more than once she almost gave up. My husband was a teenager then and would encourage his Mom. So now, it's impossible to say to her "It's time to give up driving."
That one skill that we take for granted all these years is key to that feeling of independence. I can see how important it is to her. On the way home from the DMV she held that license in her hand and couldn't keep her eyes off the little blue card. Beaming with pride, just like when she got it all those years ago.