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Posts published in “Day: January 21, 2019”

Familiarity and seniors


“All things old are new again”

Nowhere is that old saw more practiced than in a combined senior retirement community of 90,000. Evidence is everywhere.

Probably the most conspicuous evidence is in the cars many folks drive around here. We recently bought a new one with most of the “whistles and bells.” Fits our needs nicely and will for many years.

But, you’d be amazed how many 1970-1990 large, four-door sedans travel our wide streets. Chevy’s, Cadillac’s, Lincoln’s, Buicks, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, (Yes, Virginia, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs which haven’t been built in years). And nearly all we’ve seen, so far, are in top shape - inside and out - with high-gloss paint jobs, flawless glass and restored upholstery. Our parking lots often look like classic car shows.

Took awhile to figure out why so many old fellas here are hanging onto these gems of the past. It was only when we recently took delivery of our new model that I figured it out. A 2018 model with so much electronic gadgetry that it came with three owner’s manuals. Three!

There are several good reasons why the beautiful older cars are kept. For one thing, they came with just one owner’s manual. That’s all they needed. They came with buttons and switches - not the icons, multi-function buttons and multiple screens in our newer versions. You could set the heater or turn on and tune the radio by touch without taking your eyes off the road to find the right icon or figure out which function that multi-function screen is currently in or which other screen is needed for what.

Power steering, power brakes, pushbutton windows and air conditioning have been standard fare for decades. So, when it comes to “necessary” equipment, the older cars have all that stuff. But, they don’t require drivers in their 70's and 80's - and, I’m sad to say, too often around here in their 90’s - to take electronics courses to get around. They’re paid for, are cheaper to license and insure and - at 4,000-5,000 pounds - ride nicely. And safely. They’re also cheaper to maintain which is why there are so many independent auto shops in the area. Dozens.

When you’re 70 or 80-years-old, you tend to value familiar things, whether it’s friends, food, a well-used recliner or older cars. There are enough senior “challenges” to deal with without trying to learn new vehicle operating systems every time you trade cars.

It isn’t that older folks stop learning. Not here. We’ve got more than 300 clubs involving every hobby and leisure activity you ever heard of. And some you haven’t. Big clubs with all sorts of modern equipment and resources. Adult learning classes with hundreds of offerings available at no or minimal cost. Like five bucks. Met a lady in her ‘80's the other day. Quickly pushing her walker to get to a free class on iPhones so she could text and stay in touch with her grandkids in New York.

No, these classic vehicles we see so often in our community are not necessarily signs of people avoiding change. They don’t always represent someone’s effort to hold onto the past. Rather, they’re sufficient to today’s senior needs. They’re in prime shape from years of good care and often extensive restoration. They’re dependable. Without all the electronic gadgets and they’re much cheaper to maintain. They’re comfortable and safe.

But, above all, they’re familiar. Drivers who don’t have the reflexes they used to have, don’t see or hear as well as they did in they’re 30'snd 40's and didn’t grow up with computers and electronic gadgetry, may still be active and alert enough to be behind the wheel.

Their transportation may not have satellite radio or power lift gates or tire pressure monitors or even a sunroof. But, it has a “feel” you can’t find in any showroom. It’s got a responsiveness derived from years of use. It fulfills a basic need with comfort found in familiarity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got that third owner’s manual left to read.