(Photo above, Courtesy of Commute Options)
For older adults, the threat of social isolation and loneliness grows as they age and become less independent and able to do the things that they used to do, such as visiting family and friends. Even the simple act of going grocery shopping or visiting the post office to pick up mail, are not just errands, but a way for people to feel included in our community. This “social cohesion” is important for seniors’ health and numerous studies show that older adults who can remain engaged in social life are healthier, live longer and have lower rates of depression and dementia.
But often times, the older family members have to give up their driver’s license due to numerous reasons. Getting older can affect our ability to drive, and losing a driver’s license is a milestone that no one looks forward to, but will happen to many of us. In the U.S., the “Silver Tsunami” sees a very large aging baby boomer generation, many of whom will lose their drivers license in the next decade.
As a community, it is important to help this part of our community stay healthy and socially active. Transportation mobility will be critical for older people to continue to participate in social activities to keep them healthy and engaged. When seniors can no longer drive, they have other options.
The Oregon DMV, with the help from Commute Options, is currently creating information packets that will help seniors learn about their options. The packets include information such as fixed route bus services, dial-a-ride services, carpool matching resources, information about veteran’s medical transportation options, Drive Less Connect, housing information and more. Included in the packet is a free ticket for riding the bus, so people can try it out.
The packets are all tailored to individual communities and regions and will be available at every DMV office in Oregon. Stephanie Millar is a senior planner for the Oregon Department of Transportation and is heading up this effort to educate seniors about their options. “ODOT is committed to safety, but we understand having your driver’s license revoked dramatically changes your life. The idea behind these packets is to help people find ways to get around and stay engaged even when they are no longer able to drive alone.”
Commute Options is curating and coordinating the packets for the entire state. Packets for Central Oregon will include specific information about Cascade East Transit’s fixed routes and schedules, Dial-A-Ride and more.
Millar says, “Commute Options is a great partner for ODOT. We count on them to deliver information about transportation options in their service area and they are an important part of the statewide team doing this work.” If you are a senior, or have an elderly relative, friend or neighbor, be sure to check with your local DMV to see what options are available.
For more information, visit commuteoptions.org/older-parents-commute-options-has-resources.
Commute Options promotes choices that reduce the impacts of driving alone. For more information, contact Executive Director Jeff Monson at 541-330-2647 or visit commuteoptions.org
Katy Bryce is a freelance writer in Bend. katybryce.com