Aging Baby Boomers are no longer sitting at home when they retire. Many are working on a second career or prefer to spend their time traveling and staying active. Those in assisted living are no different. Even if they want help with some daily living activities, they might not be quite ready to give up their car.
The good news is that assisted living facilities are prepared to help seniors get around, whether they are behind the wheel or not:
-Many senior housing communities are located on or near public transportation routes. (Tip: When looking at communities on After55.com, check the Walk Score map or “What’s Nearby” link to see close public-transit routes.)
-And don’t forget ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which are targeting seniors with new initiatives.
This begs the question:
Should you bring a car with you when moving into assisted living?
Read on, as the answer depends on where you live, your health, and your lifestyle.
The Automobile Generation Wants Its Keys
Baby Boomers were born as suburbs exploded and driving your own car became the way to get around. Boomers started driving in their teens and continued to live behind the wheel as adults.
This is why, for many older adults, driving and independence go hand-in-hand. Being able to get into your car and drive yourself to the store, a medical appointment, or even to the park helps you stay connected to the world. Even as we age, giving up driving is a hard decision.
So if continuing to drive is important to you, you should look for a senior community that not only allows you to bring a vehicle, but provides you a reserved parking space as well.
Assisted Living Accommodates Cars – With Caveats
Senior communities want you to feel at home, so most do their best to accommodate parking for residents. Many assisted living facilities allow residents to own cars if they are still able to drive. In fact, in a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 88% of residential-care facilities said they provided space for residents to park cars.
However, there are several factors that affect driving and parking at a senior community:
Parking spaces: The number of parking spaces in a senior community correlates to the number of units and to available shuttle or chauffeur services. However, experience has shown that as residents age, the parking demand decreases.
Cost: While every senior community is different, there is usually a monthly fee to reserve your parking space. Additional fees may include snow and ice removal, as well as upkeep.
Proof of safety: If bringing a car into assisted living, you may be required to show proof that you can drive safely. You may have to provide a copy of your driver’s license and car insurance.
Parking rules: The rules will vary depending on where you want to live. If you live in single-unit housing, you may not be allowed to park in your yard or on the street for extended periods of time. If you live in an apartment complex, you will probably be assigned a parking space. However, if visitor parking is sparse, don’t be surprised if you find a strange car in your spot.
Before You Move Into Assisted Living With a Car
So we know that you generally can bring a car into assisted living. The next question is: Should you? Before moving in with a vehicle, consider these steps:
Have your driving skills assessed by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), the state department of motor vehicles, or your automobile insurance company.
Get a checkup including a physical and regular eye exam. Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications could hinder your driving abilities.
Have your car inspected to make sure it is in good working order. This includes brakes, tires, headlights, and wiper blades. Watch for pedal and carpet wear that could cause your brake or accelerator to stick.
Learn about alternative transportation, such as shuttles, buses, light rail, taxicabs, or Uber. You may need this if your car breaks down or if you are unable to drive for other reasons.
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