Friday, July 15, 2011

Living with a Transportation Challenge

AARP reiterates its concern that most older adults are lacking transportation options, particularly transit and a pedestrian-friendly street network. The result for many people is isolation as they are hesitant to ask friends and family members for assistance with non-essential trips.
Public transportation is very limited or nonexistent in America's suburbs and rural areas, where most older people live, and there is no indication that the situation will improve soon. In fact, a recent study by Transportation for America finds that by 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or nonexistent. Further, 60 percent of people age 50 and over said in an AARP survey that they did not have public transportation within a 10-minute walk from their homes. And 53 percent said they did not have a sidewalk outside their home.
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
N4A's Maturing of America Survey asked governments, particularly local governments, about their services for older adults. The survey notes generally the increasing population of older adults, increasing need and, with the recession, decreasing revenues to support programs.

In terms of transportation and other services, the survey finds that older adults living in urban areas are in a better situation than those who reside in rural areas. Higher population areas are more likely to provide discounted fares on public transportation, taxi discounts or vouchers, and door-to-door and door-through-door demand-response service. They are also more likely to have pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and intersections, paratransit and public transportation. The survey emphasized that the West Coast "excels in almost all transportation categories."

Multiple Disabilities

American Council for the Blind

ACB's newsletter, the Braille Forum, recently noted the ways in which we can all be sensitive to people with mobility challenges when planning events or when using public transit and accommodations. The article discusses people with visual impairments who have multiple disabilities.

American Public Health Association

A new resource for me is the APHA Transportation and Public Health E-Newsletter (link is to subscription page). Public health benefits of transit, community transportation, walking and biking, interrelated as they are, supply wonderful partners for coordination efforts and mobility initiatives. In the current newsletter issue are the following resources:

* The Road to Health Care Parity: Transportation Policy and Access to Health Care, a policy brief about the public health ramifications of our transportation system on living a healthy lifestyle and actually being able to travel to healthcare appointments.
* National Prevention Strategy, which recommends greater reliance on transit and the active transportation modes of biking and walking. One suggestion is to "[c]onvene partners (e.g., urban planners, architects, engineers, developers, transportation, law enforcement, public health) to consider health impacts when making transportation or land use decisions."
* Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes for Seniors programs, which are now limited to the San Francisco area and New York, respectively.
* Aging in Place, Stuck without Options: Fixing the Mobility Crisis Threatening the Baby Boom Generation, a Transportation for America report that documents the need for viable transit options so that baby boomers will be able to comfortably age in place. The report takes a hard look at rural and suburban areas, which together account for 75 percent of today's seniors.

Medicaid Tracker

National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities

NASUAD is updating monthly its Medicaid tracker, available via its homepage. The tracker reviews the Medicaid systems in each state and summarizes any changes in eligibility and service.

Legislative Recommendations

National Council on Independent Living
NCIL has posted its summer legislative priorities, which can be opened from the homepage. Among others, the priorities include a ban on forced electroshock, support for Senate processing of judicial nominations, housing, health and medical support services, and opposition to the ADA Notifications Act, which would require 90-day notice before filing an ADA complaint. NCIL is also making requests concerning funding and the structuring of state independent living entities.

NCIL's transportation endorsements favor Complete Streets legislation, accessible taxi fleets and reauthorization of transportation legislation.

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