“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” ― Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns Fifty
Studies have found that as we age, the fear of losing our independence far outweighs any fear we may have of dying. We are taught from a young age to care for ourselves and to be self-reliant. However, typically, life comes full circle in our later years and we find we must increasingly rely on others for the successful execution of many of life’s daily activities.
One of the greatest loss-of-independence fears many elders have is around the loss of the ability and privilege of driving an automobile. Likewise, one of the greatest fears their adult children have is that of having the “take away the keys” discussion.
According to government statistics, by the year 2030 the number of drivers over age 85 will increase by approximately 5 times the number driving today. This is startling, given that our current roads and automobiles are designed with younger drivers in mind and that our skills and reaction timing tend to diminish with age. ( Caregivers Resources).
Currently, there are around 8.4 million senior citizens in the U.S. who depend on others for their transportation. By planning ahead for loss of driving independence, the elderly and their families can minimize the negative impacts on the elder’s overall sense of wellbeing resulting from this type of loss. Some ways for elders to do this may be to:
- Relocate to either a senior living community or to a community with accessible public transportation or where the need for transportation is minimal
- Reside with their children or other mobile adults who may provide transportation
- Utilize private transportation companies and/or government-sponsored transportation services
In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area there are a number of private transportation companies, as well as a variety of alternative transportation services currently being offered for the elderly through the Department of Social Services (DSS), Charlotte Area Transportation Services (CATS), and the Centralina Area Agency on Aging (CAAA). A few options are listed below:
Mecklenburg Transportation System (MTS)—offered by DSS, this is an eligibility-based program that provides transportation for those on Medicaid and qualifying Veterans, for example, to give them access to such varied services as dialysis, chemotherapy, nutrition sites, and shelter workshops.
Special Transportation Service (STS)—offered by CATS, this transportation service is aimed at assisting those with disabilities. Application and certification by a health care professional is required and the client must be located within ¾ mile of an existing city bus/LYNX route. More information may be found at www.ridetransit.org or by calling 704-336-2637.
Let’s All Go—this is a FREE, one-on-one service that seeks to teach those with mobility issues to safely & independently use public transportation. A skills assessment is required and funding is provided through a NCDOT grant to CATS.
Volunteer Transportation Services (VTS)—coordinated by CAAA, currently 75 (many more are needed) volunteers drive their peers to appointments and to run errands in their communities. The service is FREE, but donations are accepted. Supplemental insurance is provided for volunteers—contact CAAA for more information or to apply.
American Speacialty Transportation Services, LLC—serving Mooresville and Lake Norman area with private transportation services. Located at 1066 Briarcliff Rd, Mooresville, NC 28115. Call 704-662-6494 for more information.
Providence Transportation Solutions—a privately owned company providing transportation needs for medical appointments, senior transportation, worker’s compensation, hospital admission and discharge, social engagements, special events, school transportation, errands and more. Call 704-366-3685 or visitwww.providencetransportationsolutions.com for more information.
*And did you know that, for a nominal fee, CATS can provide a Senior ID that allows those 62 and up to travel for ½ fare!
This all reminds us of a quote by noted satirist, Andy Rooney, “It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” However, it is our belief that by embracing and planning for the changes that life experience bring, our later years can be more appealing.
Embrace the change!