WHy do old people....

Does anyone have any theories on why elderly people do certain things? Its got me wondering why 1. Why do the elderly go to bed so early and 2. Why do they drive so slow.

  1. I go to bed early because I get sleepy. I did this when I was younger, too, so no help there. My elderly neighbor stays up all night and sleeps until noon. I dated a guy years ago when I was young and he was old (in his 60s), and he also stayed up all night. So maybe your question is a generalization that doesn’t apply all that much.

  2. I don’t drive slowly. I usually go the speed limit if there are people around. On the open highway, if there’s no one around, I will definitely exceed the speed limit. I must be good, because I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets in my life, hehe.

As far as driving slowly, perhaps they feel less-confident due to aging reflexes, senses, reaction times, etc. Slower driving would be a natural result of this.

I dunno, why do younger people stay up so late? Maybe because they like to party, they have a lot of things to do, they have a lot of energy, and/or they have small kids, so late at night when the kids are asleep is precious adult time. All of those explanations are less likely to be true as one ages. Though I agree with Thelma Lou, I’m not sure how valid the generalization is.

Likewise, why do young people drive fast? Maybe because they are reckless and/or in a hurry. Those explanations are less likely to be valid for older folks. Anyway, if someone is to the point where their vision and reflexes are noticeably compromised, they may drive slowly to compensate.

ETA: Ambivalid, you ninja you!

Back when my dad was teaching me how to drive, in the 70’s, he said “Always watch out for guys who drive with their hat on. They all learned to drive in the 30’s and 40’s, and if they’re on the freeway at 45 miles per hour, they feel like they’re burning up the road.”

He also taught me how to parallel park in a van: Drive past the parking space until you’re clear past it, and then keep going until you find a diagonal parking space.

My grandfather did this, and he was a notorious speed demon who (according to family legend) was once clocked doing 90 mph on the East Side Drive in Manhattan. :eek:

The answer to every “Why do old people…?” question is “Because they’re old.”

My grandmother stayed up until midnight when she was still alive. She worked as a nurse’s aide at a hospital before she retired, so she was used to the late night schedule and just continued it after retirement.

Funny that you say that. I bought a convertible sports car (a Miata) a few months back (a slightly early midlife crisis, perhaps), and I find that having the top down encourages me to drive slower on the freeway. Having the wind blowing through your hair at 55 on the back roads is fun. Having a 70 mile per hour wind blowing through your hair starts to become kind of unpleasant.

I probably qualify as “old” by the standards of some of you young whippersnappers here, and I don’t do any of those things. I do tend to have less stamina and hence get tired more easily than when I was younger, but I’ve always been a night person so my “old age” thing is to sleep late and continue staying up until all hours.

As for driving, I’ve always believed that most speed limits are absurdly low and I simply drive for the conditions – conditions meaning both weather and other safety factors. I’ll cheerfully do 80 km/h in a 50 zone under normal conditions, or 120+ on freeways, but slow right down on a wet rainy night or certainly in snowy winter weather. And I won’t exceed 40 km/h, the posted limit, going through a school zone on a school day. In short, long experience has taught me to be a competent fast driver but also a conservative one in responding to conditions. Never had an accident in more than 40 years of driving (probably longer – I’ve lost track).

As for the warning about drivers wearing a hat, this is very true – and they are usually driving a Buick and doing 10 or 20 under the limit and hunched over the wheel like they were desperately scanning the road for a lost contact lens – or, frighteningly, perhaps just trying to see the road – but the hat these geezers are wearing is usually a fedora. It does not apply to drivers like me who will frequently wear a baseball cap. One of these days, if I’m really feeling ornery, I’m going to put it on backwards! :smiley:

I was stuck behind the triple threat earlier today, a guy with a hat driving a Prius with a Florida license plate.

I’m 65. I usually head back to the bedroom around 8:30. But I get up at 5 for work, so there ya go. And even on my days off, I tend to wake before 6, so by 9 in the evening, I’m tired. I’ve been a morning person all my life.

As for driving, I make sure I do the limit in certain areas because the Sheriff and the state police lie in wait. Feel free to pass me. And if it’s dark and rainy, I’ll be taking my time - light reflecting off the wet road obscures the lane marks and I’d rather go slower than risk a head-on or a side-swipe. Yes, I stay to the right when it’s an option. If it’s a single lane road, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to speed up because you’re in a hurry.

I can’t count the number of times someone whipped around me, sometimes on the shoulder, only to be sitting at the next light when I get there. :rolleyes:

I’m pushing 70 and I never go to sleep before 2:00 am, and I still drive faster than I should.

One “why do old people” question I have is, why do old people drive gigantic cars?

I’m 72, stay up to 2:00 AM to watch movies or work on the computer. Ex race car driver and I drive as fast as I need to. I own the on-ramp a few houses away from my home. Don’t try to follow me when I’m feeling frisky. Out the drive way, nail it, no brakes, hard right - damn!


I firmly maintain that Buicks are far worse. Old guy with hat + Prius is at least aware that he’s in the 21st century, even if he’s not the speediest thing on the road. Old guy with hat + Buick thinks it’s still 1940. He’ll pull up at a self-serve and angrily honk his horn demanding that someone come out and “fill 'er up with ethyl”.

I have yet to see something that old people do that other non-old people don’t also do.

Drive slow? check
Go to bed early? check
Wake up early? check

Have you ever seen a younger person driving a Buick Roadmaster? I haven’t.

Or, worse, he’ll angrily honk his horn and demand that Ethel come out!

Ethel doesn’t pump gas, but Fred and Ricky will be out in a minute.