Tips for transporting elderly with mobility challenges
Loss of mobility greatly impacts the things we want to do
But what happens when our mobility hampers our ability to get up and go whenever we want? In this guide, we’re going to explore the topic of transport as an elderly person with mobility impairment and ways that one may make this process easier.
Schedules make getting things done easier
Put together a daily and weekly schedule
Planning is central to making transport as an elderly person a much easier process. Sure, there’s going to be times where spontaneous travel is warranted, but having a routine of travel during the day or week helps to ensure that the right transport support is in place and you’re getting out and about a set number of times.
Consider some of the frequent outings you will make and start the schedule around these:
- Going to buy groceries.
- Meeting family for dinner.
- Having lunch with a friend.
- Attending classes like swimming or hobbies.
- Making doctor appointments.
- Getting fresh air at the local park or beach.
This schedule will directly inform the moments of travel, and can be the foundation used to plan out each transport option. This may be a combination of solo travel, family help and ride services.
Driving: what to think about with a loss of mobility
Regularly test eyes and motor skills
If you’re driving to your various destinations across the week, you’ll want to make sure that vision and motor skills are at a level that accommodates this. Your doctor will be the best first port of call here, especially when diagnosing your motor skills, reaction times and hearing. An optometrist will provide a more detailed assessment of your vision, which in most places needs to meet a baseline standard to continue holding a drivers licence.
It’s important to make these checks regularly, especially if you have a condition that presents as degenerating mobility or senses. Your health provider(s) will be the best placed to consult as to your fit for driving. If you aren’t quite at the level for driving a car, you may still be able to retain some independence on an electric mobility scooter.
Adjust car settings to allow for comfortable driving
The following is not official road safety information. Please consult with your local authorities for more specific guidance around driving and precautions.
Much like our preferences and settings change in the home with ageing and mobility reduction, so too does our car’s configuration. If your posture is affected by condition or age, your seat may need to be raised by the car’s seat setting and with the help of additional car seat inserts. You may also need backrests to support a safe driving position or for additional comfort.
Mirrors will need to be checked regularly to ensure you have full visibility around the vehicle. If you’re finding that the standard mirror on the car doesn’t adequately provide safe views from all angles, you may wish to invest in some 3rd party mirrors to reveal any remaining blindspots. Note you should always check manually and not rely on mirrors entirely.
Keep car well maintained
A well maintained vehicle is a smart decision for any car owner. For an elderly person with mobility challenges, keeping up to date with the car’s servicing and repair will reduce the chance of breakdowns and being caught in a remote location. If the vehicle is not properly serviced you may also have a higher risk of accident from issues such as worn brakes, transmission failure or faulty lights.
You can also speak with your vehicle service provider or mechanic about options to make the vehicle easier for your needs as a mobility imparied elderly person.
Use a good GPS solution
Navigation systems are excellent as they can help us get to where we need to be without the distraction of traditional maps or passenger navigating. Having a maps app on your phone or an inbuilt GPS in your vehicle is an extra layer of support when you’re focusing on safe driving.
Getting around without a car
Invest in a good mobility scooter for shorter distances
Driving isn’t for everyone, and when someone in our senior citizen community gets to a certain level of mobility impairment, it’s just not an option. Luckily mobility scooters are a vehicle category that’s purpose designed for elderly users who want the freedom of solo travel without the risks associated with driving a car whilst physically impaired.
These scooters are usually controlled by hand only, with a motorbike style handle bar layout and multiple speed settings. They also provide baskets and other storage compartments so you can bring bags of shopping back home with you.
Group trips to remove driving as an obstacle
Accompany family or friends on group trips to reduce driving
Transport with family or friends is a really great way to stay moving around without any worry of driving yourself. Whether it’s a weekly catch up or an event, travelling with family unlocks further distances than your local area and comes with no costs of public transport or private paid ride services.
Use travel services to fill in the gaps
Make use of community or senior support travel services
Relying upon family or friends isn’t practical all the time. They have their own commitments and routines to consider.
Otherwise, you may have access to discounted public transport such as the train, bus or ferry. Many countries have discounted rates for seniors.
Holidays fun without the hassle of driving
Take holidays where travel is taken care of
Going on holiday? You can make transport part of the experience itself, with numerous adventure holidays that transport you in comfort and style:
Cruise ship holiday – see the world from the comfort of a massive ocean liner complete with all the creature comforts and luxuries one could want on holiday. The holiday is as much about being at sea getting to ports as it is about the stops along the way. Cruises are heavily favoured by the senior age demographic, so these holidays are incredibly well catered towards this customer. Booking with a travel agent, you should also be able to get transport to and from your onboarding port and home.
Bus tour – some countries’ landscapes, sights and towns are best experienced on the road. Bus tours that are aimed at older audiences provide an expert local tour guide, help with your bags, and opportunities to make new lifelong friends, too.
Scenic train trip – whether you’re travelling through the southern alps of New Zealand or across continental Europe, a comfortable train trip offers more to see in the shortest period of time than any other mode of transport. Experience not just one location, but get a sense of a country’s scenic wonders through the comfort of rail.
Arranging transport ahead of time
Some destinations won’t be transport-based but you can reduce or remove the need to think about transport when you arrive by planning a more detailed itinerary with a travel agent who can book your transport each day as well.
More information about this topic:
You can find useful information about this topic across the web via the following excellent online resources:
- Public transport for people with disabilities or over 65 – NZTA
- Transportation: What Caregivers Need to Know – AARP
- Your right to transport – Australian Human Rights Commission
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