Friday, June 18, 2010

Huge Gaps for Seniors

Transportation: The Silent Need, a report from the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST), outlines the tremendous unmet demand for older adults. The paucity of service is especially acute in rural areas.

As I have heard from Mary Leary, Senior Director of Easter Seals Project ACTION, and Jane Hardin, Transportation Specialist at the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), transportation provides older adults with a life of spontaneity and social interaction as well as meeting the fundamental needs of access to food and medical care. Yet, as the NCST shows in the results of its survey of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), more than half of older adults find it challenging to obtain transportation for everything except medical care, which clocks in at just under 50 percent. These activities included grocery shopping, participation in religious institutions, entertainment, and visiting family and friends.

While there is a wide array of programs in the family of services, many are unavailable in a majority or even a quarter of AAA service areas. Door-to-door and volunteer driver programs exist in 50 to 60 percent of jurisdictions, but door-through-door, travel training, pedestrian access, and driver transition programs all come in at under 20 percent. And these numbers refer to availability and not whether the programs are able to meet demand.

Only fixed-route transportation approached 80 percent and that statistic did not speak about safety, depth of service, service hours or pedestrian access. In rural areas that number is approximately 60 percent.

The vast majority of AAA staff who responded said that transportation was either somewhat coordinated or that coordination was "improving." Very few gave high or low marks.

This report was the first in an NCST series that will examine senior transportation in Indian country, transportation for older diverse populations, and senior mobility and livable communities.

Please note that this post will also be appearing in the NRC Technical Assistance News, an occasional consequence of having two blogs with overlapping coverage.

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