Archive - October, 2012

Age-friendly urban mobility

From the time we are old enough to take our first steps, we crave the independence that mobility provides. This craving does not dissipate as we get older – independence is a major contributor to successful ageing. Among Americans 65 years or older, “having the ability to do things myself” was rated higher in importance (95 percent, very important) than any other aspect of life besides good health (according to the AARP Healthy@Home Survey, 2008).

Mobility is key to our independence and affects almost every aspect of well-being for people of all ages, because it influences our ability to connect with the people, places and activities that are both essential to and enrich our lives. Older people face particular mobility challenges, as frailty, vision and hearing impairment, and other aspects of physical deterioration make it more difficult to use various transport modes, including riding public transportation, driving and walking. Given the global growth in the senior population, innovative approaches are required to understand and develop solutions to meet their transportation needs. These solutions are not one size fits all – they certainly vary by region/geographic area, and, even within a region, may also vary for different sub-populations of seniors.

In the US, where so much of the population relies on driving as the primary mode of transportation (and where public transportation options are not readily available in many areas), a major challenge in many regions of the country is how to ensure mobility for older people once they have to give up their car keys. On any given day over half of non-drivers who are 65 years old or older stay home in part because they have no transportation (according to the “Aging Americans: Stranded without Options”, Surface Transportation Policy Project, 2004).

Community-based, private and non-profit organisations and groups are working to develop various solutions and services to replace the reliance on driving one’s self. One such organisation is ITNAmerica, whose mission is to provide dignified, affordable transportation to seniors by providing rides in private cars using a mix of volunteer and paid drivers. Rides are provided 24/7/365 for any purpose within a particular service area. ITNAmerica’s non-profit business model is designed to bring together community organisations, healthcare providers, local businesses and families to weave a strong web of community support for providing mobility to seniors.

Continue Reading…