Aging in Place; Stuck without Options

July 4th, 2011 9:28 pm

“Aging in place” is identified as not having to move from one’s present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to changing need. It means having a safe, accessible and comfortable home to live in as your body and mind age. Accessibility does not limit itself to no-barrier entry, wide doorways and lack of stairs. A huge component of accessibility has to do with independent and public options to get to/from your barrier-free home. Suburb lovers, listen up.

I’m sure that’s not what your parents meant when they said they envision aging in place. Being stuck within four walls of their home is not as glamorous of a life as they have imagined. But that is exactly what more than 56% of soon-to-be 65-year-oldsĀ  will be facing, if we don’t address the transportation component of “aging in place”.

Suburbia living has been creating solely on the assumption that every family member would operate or have access to an automobile. If you remove the vehicle from the equation, you are left with a very scary scenario of the largest part of the American population no longer having access to the basic amenities like groceries, pharmacies, clinics. What we need now is an influx of public transportation solutions to provide, for many the only, way to move around.

“The analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology evaluates metro areas within each of five size categories. It shows that in just four years, 90 percent of seniors in metro Atlanta will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving, the worst ranking among metro areas with populations over 3 million.”

Accessibility by foot is also crucial and often forgotten about. Many suburban neighborhoods have been poorly designed and do not provide a safe and walking-friendly environment. Walking here relates not only to getting to places, but also safe exercise and fitness outlet. No sidewalk, no walk.

“In the last 15 years, more than 76,000 Americans have been killed while crossing or walking along a street in their community.”

For many decades, public transportation has been viewed as the poor class way to commute from here to there. The stigma against bus systems, neighborhood connecting street car or rail system, has moved this society to the tip of inefficiency, which everyone will soon be paying for. Unless we choose to do something about it…now.

For more information on the dangers of poorly connected and developed suburban neighborhood and aging , download the Transportation for American study.

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