Friday, December 12, 2008

Helping Elders Get Around

One expense vital to elders’ health and mobility is transportation. Whether it is depending on a car or public transportation, elders have to factor in this expense and it can get quite costly. The Independent Transportation Network® (ITN) is a nonprofit organization that offers affordable, dignified transportation to elders though its affiliates in eight states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Maine. This is uniquely operated and allows seniors unable to drive to participate in the CarTrade™ program, which allows them to trade in their car for transportation credits.

ITN is a great example of volunteers taking control to assist their communities. Volunteer drivers can earn and store mileage credits that they can use when they transition to the passenger seat. It’s called Transportation Social Security™. Volunteers can also choose to donate the credits they earn to low income seniors who apply for help through the Road Scholarship™ program.

Though not all communities have an ITN® affiliate or similar organization, it is encouraging to see innovative and leading examples like this one. The Elder Economic Security Standard Index™ (Elder Index) maps out elders’ transportation costs by geographic location, whether in a rural or urban setting, to more accurately portray true costs. In communities without a free or affordable elder transportation system, the Elder Index can help advocate for such a system or to fund programs that advocate for elder economic security more generally.

1 comment:

Stacy Sanders, EESI Field Organizer said...

Today, I attended the AAA Aging and Mobility Roundtable! AAA brings together advocates, researchers, philanthropists, federal administrators and others to discuss how different groups are assuring multiple, safe transportation options are accessible to elders nationwide.

At today's meeting, we discussed the re-release of federal guidelines on making transportation work for users of all types (drivers and pedestrians) and ages (look for it in April 2009). We heard about new research on common misperceptions regarding seniors' risk for causing road collisions. It turns out seniors pose no more risk to other drivers or pedestrians than middle-aged drivers and far less risk that teenagers! And, we learned about ongoing efforts to educate physicians, geriatric social workers and law enforcement officials about the special transportation needs and issues facing aging communities.

If you want to learn more, the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST) is a great resource on senior transportation issues all around! NCST works to coordinate efforts among aging service providers and transportation providers. NCST provides technical assistance to these professionals as well as older adults and family caregivers. Find out more about their fabulous efforts at: http://seniortransportation.easterseals.com.

And, remember to be safe out on those roads!