As individuals grow older, they face increasing problems with facets of life that they previously took as a given. One of the most difficult activities for seniors to give up is driving. Loss of self-transportation threatens a person’s feelings of independence and hopefulness, restricting the control that they have over their day. However, for safety reasons, opting for a different senior transportation option is wise.
Here are the most common safety reasons why older individuals should pursue transportation options made for them rather than continuing to drive themselves.
The Dangers Seniors Face in Transportation
When most people think about what it’s like to drive near someone who is older, they tend to envision someone who is driving slowly or having difficulty staying in their lane. However, there are many risks that come with senior transportation without assistance, even if a person does not have a car. Things like allowing an elderly individual to catch a bus on their own can become dangerous without supervision. The reasons for this come down to the following:
Vision is the most common sense to degrade with age. Allowing someone to drive when they cannot see clearly can put themselves and others in danger, slowing their reaction times and contributing to preventable accidents.
Outside of cars, seniors who are struggling with vision loss may not be able to locate a bus stop or read the sign to understand which bus number to look for. They may get on the wrong bus or train and end up lost. A senior transportation service will typically fetch your loved one so that they do not have to worry about these details.
As people age, their muscles tend to grow weaker. When operating a motor vehicle, this can mean more difficulty pressing the brake or flexibility issues that interfere with turning the steering wheel. It can even prevent looking backward or to the side when changing lanes or parking.
For seniors who catch buses or other public transport, this may come in the form of difficulty climbing bus stairs or being unable to enter a tram or train before it closes its doors. Senior transportation services are scheduled at a certain time and allow your loved one to take advantage of accessibility features to board and travel safely.
Most individuals will experience some form of memory decline as they get older. Difficulty remembering can make it easy for an older person to drive somewhere they don’t recognize or forget how to get back home. With public transportation, they may forget their stop or get off late and then try to walk back home, getting lost along the way.
Senior transportation professionals offer services like sitting and waiting for your loved one so that you can rest assured they will not wander off and are under supervision. Your loved one becomes a special client rather than an anonymous member of the public.
Alongside memory loss comes some decrease in cognitive function for many people. This typically results in a reduction in reaction time—a critical element in safely operating a motor vehicle. This may also impact people’s ability to use public transport if they cannot respond quickly enough to a bus’ shortstop or the brief opening and closing of train doors. Senior transportation takes this burden off of your loved one to support their existing abilities while keeping them safe on the way to their destination.
One element that many people don’t consider when thinking about transportation for their aging relatives is their resilience. In an accident (whether in a car, bus, taxi or something else), significant forces can be exerted on a person’s body, even if the vehicle sustains most of the damage. Older individuals’ bodies are not as resilient to these forces as a younger person’s might be.
Senior transportation services typically come equipped with increased safety features, more interior space to prevent a person from hitting their head on a seat back or window and more to keep older folks safe. In addition, these transport options often drive more slowly than normal traffic, so collisions will produce less shock overall, should they occur.
Learn About Senior Transportation Options Near You
Senior transportation services are a critical part of aging safely. They eliminate many of the biggest concerns associated with older individuals driving themselves or relying on public transport. At Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia, we work closely with our community to make sure that families are aware of the many senior transportation options available to them.
Contact our experts to learn more about the services that your loved one(s) could use in your area and discover other aging in place tools and resources to keep your family member(s) safe and independent.