I am writing this as my wife and I are traveling up the I-95 corridor to the Hudson Valley of New York State, where we have never been. She is driving. I am amazed by how many people that look a lot older than me, are traveling the I-95 corridor. Of course I-95 is the main North-South route up and down the East Coast and this is the time of year that the “Snowbirds” head for Florida for their six month change of residence to the land of sunshine. But today they should be headed the other direction; they should be going south and we are headed north.
Seniors today are much more capable of driving than even seniors of my parents’ generation. When my father was 70, I was concerned about his driving, but now that I am 74 myself, and I claim to drive just fine, I worried for naught. My father did fine. My wife and I know a lot of older folks who walk with care, but drive with ease. We know some who are significantly older than we are, who aren’t even beginning to think about turning over their keys to their kids. We drive to Cincinnati from the Washington, DC area several times a year. It’s only nine hours but we do it all in one day and arrive refreshed enough to play with the grandkids when we arrive. I should say “used to play” with the grandkids. Now we go and watch our four grandkids, ages 10-17, play soccer, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse or whatever is in season. This is often the same night we get there, and we enjoy the games fully awake and refreshed from the nine hour drive.
There is a lot of controversy about when seniors must turn over the keys. Some say the Government should make the decision based solely on age (expect a one size fits all solution at age 75 if that happens). Some leave it to their own judgment. Sometimes the kids make the decision for us. I know a woman who at 90 kicked and screamed and yelled at her kids as they dug into her purse and grabbed the keys, and I know “young at heart” couples in their 80s and some even in their 90s, who are on the road all the time.
Does it all come down to the old adage about taking care of yourself and staying active physically and mentally? According to “experts” who study these kinds of things, people who sit on the couch and watch reality TV are much more likely to be “stay at homes” when it comes to travel, and they are far more likely to lose their road warrior skills. Those who are physically active seem to go to more far away places and do more things by car, and retain those “road warrior” skills long past when the others lose theirs.
My wife and I travel by car a lot. We commented just today that we see more seniors than ever at the rest stops and Service Plazas. Most seem to be enjoying their traveling. We see a lot of shapes and conditions too. And almost without fail, those who exceed the standard weight scales, look like they barely function as they struggle to climb out of their cars to head inside, while those that are lean, trim and obviously active, move out of their cars with relative ease. I say relative because we all get stiff and a little sore after a long time in the car, but we recover quickly. We pop back in our cars after the pause that refreshes and are ready for another couple of hours of enjoying the trip. The obvious couch potatoes look like traveling another ten miles would be like running a double marathon. Most of the active people stretch and do some bending and twisting and then briskly move on inside. The obvious couch potatoes slouch and shuffle and make it look like the entire process is a major chore.
These are just some observations as we head up I-95 to New York’s Hudson Valley and then on to a reunion of senior friends on Long Island, NY. There will be a lot of driving, but it’s still fun and because we are active and take care of ourselves, we will still be relatively refreshed and ready to the things that tourists do, when we get to each day’s stop.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for reading.