Transportation

Access to transportation is key to support the health and well-being of older adults and ensure their ability to age in place in the community. Yet access to adequate, accessible transportation is a major challenge. The number one reason older adults call the national toll-free Eldercare Locator hotline (800.677.1116) is for transportation options. During the past two years (July 2012-June 2014), more than 37,000 transportation calls were handled by the Eldercare Locator and the numbers keep growing.

While about 600,000 older adults stop driving each year, many more modify their driving habits. Giving up the car keys greatly limits older adults’ access to medical care, shopping and opportunities for socialization. Older adults with access to public transportation often choose not to use it for various reasons, including distance to transit stops and concerns about safety. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing the mobility needs of older adults. Rather, community efforts must encompass a variety of approaches, including safe driving programs and travel training, volunteer and assisted transportation programs, dial-a-ride and paratransit options.

Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) have long recognized the myriad challenges posed by seniors’ mobility limitations and are at the forefront of community efforts to expand the transportation options available for older adults and people with disabilities. AAAs develop and manage senior transportation programs; participate in, and often lead, local and regional efforts to coordinate transportation services; and advocate for transportation funding. AAAs’ experience in providing information and referral/assistance and care management, including administration of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), is spurring development of person-centered mobility management programs and one-call/one-click transportation resource centers in a growing number of communities.

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