Growing older comes with challenges, and most people envision things like failing vision or shakier hands when they think of the aging process. However, one thing that they rarely consider is the loss of opportunities that they previously took for granted.
If you need something at the store, odds are you can simply go and get it at a time that is convenient for you. Older folks, however, may be restricted in their ability to leave the house or secure senior transportation.
There are many reasons why a basic task like driving grows more difficult the older people get, and most people will be affected in some way as they reach their older years. Here are some of the primary reasons why transportation becomes more difficult with age, as well as what you can do about it to support yourself, or an aging loved one.
One of the biggest challenges that aging individuals face is a decrease in mobility. As their bodies age, they may not move as quickly or be as coordinated. This can make even formerly simple tasks like walking to the store or to the bus stop not only difficult, but also dangerous. Powered wheelchairs or assistive caretakers can help to overcome this challenge, as can services such as food and grocery delivery.
As mentioned above, as mobility declines people may not be safe when they are making trips to go where they need to go. If your loved one is prone to falls, they could seriously injure or even kill themselves, attempting to travel on their own.
However, other risks also come with age; if a vehicle is in a crash, for instance, an older person is likely to come away with more significant injuries than someone younger. This can make even supervised travel more dangerous.
One benefit of traveling using your own car or being able to walk is the ability to do so whenever you wish. Once someone gets older, though, they are often beholden to the schedules at which buses and other public transportation services operate.
And if they should find themselves struggling to stay mobile or be on time that day, they may miss their opportunity to travel entirely. This makes streamlined transport more difficult.
Even if an older person is always on time for their bus or can get down to a rideshare as soon as they arrive, availability presents a challenge too. Buses and trains may not run during critical hours (late at night or early in the morning).
Even rideshare services might not have drivers interested in picking up the request at certain times, such as rush hour. Transportation availability is limited when other age limitations come into play.
As we get older, we lose mobility on average. However, even older folks who are still spry and active might face other physical challenges that make transportation difficult or even impossible. If their body is healthy, but they cannot see well, they will still be unable to operate a car safely.
The same can be true of someone who is deaf in their advanced age and may be at risk when walking. Even someone whose body is mobile but who suffers from mental challenges or confusion is not safe to continue to seek transportation on their own.
Other People’s Attitudes
One of the least talked-about challenges that older people face when they are seeking transportation is how other people respond to their presence. It can be difficult to ride public transit if no one is willing to give up their seat or if people hesitate to attempt to accommodate their needs (like a walker).
It’s certainly true that businesses and transportation services must comply with ADA requirements to make spaces accessible, but this does nothing to solve the potential shame and embarrassment that many older people face when they go out. These attitudes might not have any physical impact on a person’s ability to travel, but the social difficulty can discourage older folks from going out at all.
Get Your Senior Family Member the Transportation They Need
If you or someone you love is facing social, physical or scheduling challenges with transportation due to older age, it can be confusing to know what to do next. The Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia is proud to help families connect with senior transportation services that can make everyone’s lives easier and help them stay involved in their communities and activities of life.
Reach out to learn more about the services that might be available near you or to speak with professionals who can give you advice for aging in place.