Posts Tagged ‘seniors’

Self-Driving Cars

July 7, 2015

I feel a lot of interest in Google’s development of a self-driving car. The technology is certainly here, now. We could roll out a whole new regime of driving in five years, from what I can see. What hold us back are political and legal concerns. People are made very uneasy by something so new occupying such a central place in society. They are wary of large, heavy objects hurtling about without human guidance.

So my question is: what will push us past these concerns? What positive attractions will convince us to adopt this exhilarating, life-changing innovation?

There is the possibility of greatly alleviating traffic woes, as computer-driven cars need much less safety space between them. There is the prospect of much greater highway safety, as drunk drivers, distracted drivers, and poor drivers no longer put themselves and the rest of us at risk. There is the attraction of reading a book, playing a game, or watching a movie while you drive.

There is the ambition (of car companies) to sell millions of new, wonderful, expensive gadgets.

For my money, though, the force most likely to propel self-driving cars into orbit is my generation: aging baby boomers. Old people don’t drive as well. Old people ultimately don’t drive at all. They thus lose control of their lives: can’t shop, can’t go to the doctor, can’t go to a concert, can’t go to church. Somebody else has to drive them.

But with self driving cars, elders can remain independent much, much longer. When they (and their children) realize this, they will be hard to stop.

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Life Review

May 16, 2012

I published As Our Years Increase 23 years ago, when both my parents and Popie’s parents were alive. My father-in-law, Henry Herrod, stimulated my writing by demanding to know how we planned to take care of him when he got old. I wasn’t altogether delighted to ponder that question, but I conceded he had a point. As Our Years Increase was my way of answering. It’s a research-based book about life after 65 and how families go through it together.

A year or so ago I decided to take some of my out-of-print books and turn them into ebooks. I thought some of them might still have something worthwhile to say. Today I’m announcing that my first one is up, available both through Amazon and through Smashwords (with Barnes and Noble and others to come) for $2.99.

I found it interesting to go through the book preparing to re-publish it. Each chapter begins with a memo to a parent or in-law, putting the subject in a very personal, family frame. That was a little tricky and theoretical when I wrote, as those issues weren’t yet “real” for us.

In the intervening years, they’ve become real. We’ve seen all our parents to the end of their lives. Henry died very suddenly from a heart attack. Lung cancer took my mother, one month after diagnosis. My father, who had been in long decline from Alzheimers, died four months after my mom. And last year my mother in law, Ozzie, died at least partly because of the trauma she experienced when the tornado hit her home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She was 93.

What I’d written theoretically so many years before all held up, I’m glad to say. Nothing proved foolish or fundamentally mistaken.

I think As Our Years Increase can still be helpful to people contemplating the dilemmas of aging. There’s practical advice gleaned from many sources, and there’s a lot of reflection on what old age is supposed to mean, in all its many phases. If this interests you, do take a look. At Smashwords you can preview the first 20% for free.