Access to transportation keeps seniors independent, engaged in civic & social activities

Access to transportation keeps seniors independent, engaged in civic & social activities


Transportation is essential to quality of life for seniors. Yet our country’s transportation network policy has not undergone any extensive updates in five decades. Transportation for America (T4A), a coalition working to ensure transportation for citizens of all ages, released a report in 2011 called “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation.

The report defines the current state of transportation affairs and advocates areas for change, if we, as a country, are going to meet the needs of our aging citizens.

“Absent access to affordable travel options, seniors face isolation, a reduced quality of life and possible economic hardship. A 2004 study found that seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65 percent fewer trips to visit family and friends, than drivers of the same age. “

Hitting the road with upgrades

A growing number of cities and states are taking the initiative to make transportation accessible to the older residents of their communities. These steps include ensuring facilities and services for seniors are located in areas with nearby transportation and installing senior-friendly roadway upgrades to reduce accidents and increase the length of time seniors can drive.

The best practices cited by the T4A report include installing larger street signs and larger and brighter stop lights; keeping median strips painted and visible; and adding left turn lanes on busy streets. After Detroit implemented these changes, the city saw a 35 percent decrease in accidents with injuries among drivers 65 years and older.

While these roadway improvements will be a huge boost to the quality of life for seniors, most will eventually be dependent on someone else to drive. If they are to have quality of life at that point, access to transportation is imperative in order for them to remain independent as long as possible.

Alternative transit options
While many communities have taken steps to enhance public transportation so it is more accessible to seniors, including more routes and stops, the T4A report predicts public transit will be hard to find in communities of 65,000 or fewer residents, which is why many forward-thinking community officials have begun innovative steps to address this challenge.

Alternative transportation

meth-wick-transportation-vanFor those residents who drive, Meth-Wick provides abundant indoor parking so their vehicle is easily accessible no matter what Iowa’s volatile weather brings.

Meth-Wick residents who do not own a car have alternative transportation options, including courtesy rides in a chauffeur-driven car (14 free one-way trips per fiscal year) and a free intra-campus transit system. An additional option, Meth-Wick Home & Health Services wheelchair-accessible Mobility Van, is available to clients.

All of us at Meth-Wick understand the importance of transportation to your wellbeing. Life as it should be.