Treating Senior Citizens Fairly

Larry Price
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Wednesday - August 01, 2007
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Recently, a “seasoned” citizen (79-year-old) accelerated her car accidentally and slammed into the front of a Longs Drug Store in Mililani Market Place, creating a hole about 4 feet wide and bruising a 75-year-old shopper.

Police say the driver will likely not face any charges, but the “goodie-goodie” gang wants her and others in her age group stripped of their driver’s licenses, retested every year and required to pass a physical every year before they are allow to drive.

I disagree wholeheartedly with the rush to judgment against elderly motorists.

There is no question that hearing and vision diminish rapidly after an individual reaches a certain age. Ophthalmologists claim that everyone over 72 years of age will have cataracts sooner or later. They also admit that they have medical procedures that can improve anyone’s vision with new lasik technology. If you want better vision, there is a way to achieve it. The same is true for hearing.

Of course, if a seasoned citizen is suffering from dementia, then driving a motor vehicle is out of the question. But to have a knee-jerk reaction and pass a law to make seasoned citizens jump through governmental hurdles to preserve their independence and driver’s license is not a good idea, or a noble one either.

Getting old is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a lot of courage to enter a drugstore and try to navigate the lengthy procedures to secure life-saving drugs. Even filling out the forms is a task that can be embarrassing at times.

It’s not easy to grow old gracefully.

At times it seems as if everyone just wants you to get out of the way. If you make a line at the supermarket move a little slower, they want to run you over with a shopping cart.

If you have ever watched senior citizens trying to get across a busy intersection, you can easily see how tormented some motorists are when they cannot race through a crosswalk.

It is probably safe to say the only time a seasoned citizen is really appreciated is if grandma or grandpa are needed to babysit or help buy clothes and school supplies for the grandkids, or provide a down payment for a first home.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no question some elderly people know very well they should-n’t be out driving around any time of the day or night. But giving up one’s independence is a difficult thing to do, because it hurts. They have to wait around for someone to drive them to go shopping or to keep a doctor’s appointment.

If our government officials want to come down hard on senior citizens, then they should have some balance. Stop making them pay for their share of public education, eliminate their taxes on food and drugs, and let them use public transportation for free.

A little balance would be nice. Simply put, your physical abilities at an advanced age have to do with genetics, lifestyle and physical condition. There are a lot of people who are not ready to be put out to pasture just because they are 75 years old. Such a sweeping policy would be an insult to living to a ripe old age.

As life expectancy increases every year, so should the attitudes of you young whipper-snappers.

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