Most of us equate driving with a sense of freedom and independence. We’re able to hop into a car and go wherever we want to go, whenever we want to go there. Imagine how radically your life would change if you could no longer to just that. You might feel trapped, isolated, and no longer in control. That’s what many older adults go through when they lose their ability to drive, and it’s why the need for alternatives for senior transportation becomes so important. The Community Transportation Association of America confirms that transportation is often one of the greatest challenges for older adults and their families, putting the number of older Americans who depend on others for their mobility at 26 million.
“Older adults need transportation for daily living activities—errands, shopping, community activities including volunteer work, recreation, entertainment, visiting friends and family, and for non-emergency medical transportation,” says Jane Hardin, program specialist with CTAA. Employment transportation also is a growing need among older people, Hardin adds, citing a statistic from the 2017 Transamerica retirement survey of 4,000 adult workers in which half say they plan to work after retirement age.
Loss of Driving Ability
Frequently there is a cognitive or physical impairment that impedes an older adult’s driving ability. “It’s often a progression,” says Hardin, noting that it might start out with an older adult not wanting to deal with traffic anymore. “Then they decide they’re not going to drive on the interstate and they’re not going to drive at night.”
Eventually, safety considerations may make it inadvisable for the older adult to drive at all. Hardin observes that while driving ability may dissipate, the need for social interaction does not. Unfortunately, social isolation is often a sad consequence of the loss of driving ability as seniors find themselves dependent on others for their transportation needs.
It doesn’t have to be that way. As Hardin observes, there are transportation options that seniors can use to get out in the community more often. While it’s helpful for adult children to provide transportation, another way of being helpful is to seek out and identify resources their parents can use to enhance mobility and independence.
Passport Around Louisville Service for Seniors
JFCS’ PALS program offers an easy-to-use, affordable transportation option that helps senior adults maintain their independence. PALS operates Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with professional drivers who provide companionship along with safe transport. We have a wheelchair-accessible van that features an easy entry/exit ramp for walkers. Assistance to and through the door is available as well as escort services when you need someone to accompany you to your appointment.
With PALS, you can continue all of your regular activities:
· Grocery shopping
· Medical appointments
· Personal appointments
· Volunteer and Jewish Community activities
· Social engagements, and much more!
Contact Naomi Malka 502-452-6341 ext. 249 to learn more about how the JFCS PALS program can help you or a loved one regain their independence and continue to #AgeOutLoud.
A Combination of Options
And don’t overlook the option of walking as a great way for seniors to get around while also providing a good opportunity for exercise. It’s a major plus if the community has sidewalks to make walking safer and more convenient, Hardin observes.
Ultimately, it’s not a single option that helps seniors maintain their mobility but a combination of options. “Mobility is a continuum,” Hardin says. “It’s walking, taking the bus, driving, having somebody drive you…All of those things connect, and all of them are important to being a vibrant age-friendly community.”