The availability of transportation options greatly affects quality of life, including the ability to remain in one’s home.
Many older adults, particularly those people living in rural and suburban areas, often have little or no means for getting to doctor visits, grocery shopping and other needs.
Tennessee is fortunate to have public transportation in all 95 counties across the state, but it is still not enough to handle the growing volume of transportation needs for the aging.
With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, 22% of Tennesseans will be 65 and older by 2020, and the 85+ cohort is the fastest growing segment of the older population. Nashville currently has 30,000 residents who are 75 years and older, those most likely to have multiple chronic health conditions and need transportation assistance. Many older adults continue to drive safely, often giving rides to family members and neighbors. Others may limit or stop driving due to declining vision and other age-related changes. Those no longer driving frequently find themselves isolated at home. Some, lacking alternatives, continue driving, raising a public safety concern. According to research published in the Journal of Public Health, life expectancy typically exceeds driving life expectancy for both men (6 years) and women (11 years).
A 2011 Transportation for America study revealed that seniors who no longer drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65% fewer trips to visit friends and family. The same study noted that the Nashville region ranked the 4th worst in terms of percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation. Recent focus groups with older residents have shown that seniors use all types of rides available to them, but often encounter barriers such as price, eligibility requirements, technology, and lack of assistance.
For the past thirty years, the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee (COA) has identified the unmet needs of older adults and caregivers, and been a catalyst for creating collaborative solutions. The need for affordable, reliable assisted transportation is one of the biggest unmet needs for older adults in our community and an issue that COA has been working on since 2005. Fifteen months ago, thanks to the leadership of Board member and former TDOT Assistant Commissioner, Ed Cole, COA gathered public and private organizations around the table to create a solution.
Since May 2015, the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition – with representation from AARP, FiftyForward, Jewish Family Services, TN Commission on Aging and Disability, TDOT, the Governor’s office, Metro agencies, faith communities, HCA Foundation and other cross sector partners – has studied model, supplemental transportation programs (several noted in the 2014 Governor’s Task Force on Aging report), identified best practices and preferred features and created plans for a new volunteer ride service for older adults in Nashville. Never before has there been such strong momentum to launch a service like ones that have been successful in cities across the country. In Tennessee, volunteer driver programs for older adults exist in Knoxville, Memphis, Blount, Co., and Fairfield Glade. Innovations like the web-based Assisted Rides scheduling and tracking software provide the technology needed to support large-scale volunteer ride programs where pre-screened and trained volunteers log in and select rides.
COA and the STLC plan to launch a new, affordable volunteer-based ride service and call center in Nashville that will complement existing ride options and assist older adults in accessing transportation. The target population is senior adults age 60 and older living in Davidson County who no longer drive or limit their driving and can transfer safely in/out of a vehicle with limited assistance. Screened and trained volunteer drivers will use their personal vehicles to provide door-to-door or door-through-door rides to medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies and other destinations. Limited service launches will begin in designated service areas in mid 2017 with gradual expansion through the addition of service areas in Davidson County.
While attempts were made to incorporate the new program within an existing nonprofit, no organization elected to take on a service of this scale, and COA does not provide direct services. Therefore, the STLC decided to create a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency to recruit and train volunteer drivers and operate the call center and volunteer ride service. The STLC will follow the Blount Co. model of creating a sustainable membership organization where older adults “have skin in the game” by paying for affordable, annual memberships and ride fees. Corporate sponsorships and grant funding will be utilized to cover fees for older adults with low incomes. Mechanisms are being explored for car donations for ride credits to create a dignified option to “retire from driving.” Partnerships with STLC organizations such as AARP, FiftyForward, Jewish Family Services, and faith communities will be utilized to recruit volunteer drivers.
It’s important to note that this service is about more than rides….it’s about relationships, and health and quality of life. It’s about enhancing our community by harnessing the power of volunteers to honor and support older adults and family caregivers. Join us on this journey!
When Should Older Adults Stop Driving?
SIGNS that driving has become a problem for seniors:
•Feeling more nervous while driving.
•More traffic tickets or warnings in the last year.
•More dents or scratches on the car or on curbs, garage walls, or doors, etc.
•Trouble consistently staying in a single lane of traffic.
•Friends not wanting to ride with you.
•Trouble seeing or following road signs and pavement markings.
•Difficulty in concentrating while driving.
•Medications that may be affecting your ability to concentrate or drive safely.
•Response time to unexpected situations is slower than it used to be.
•Trouble moving your foot from the gas to the brake pedal.
•Getting lost more often.
•Difficulty in judging gaps in traffic at intersections and on entrance/exit ramps.
•More frequent “close calls.”
•Other drivers honking at you more often.
•Trouble seeing the sides of the road when you are looking ahead (cars/people “coming out of nowhere”).
Those concerned about a senior’s mental or physical ability to continue driving can seek help in several ways:
•Family doctor or ophthalmologist evaluation and intervention
•Disable the car for dementia patients
•Driver evaluation conducted by occupational and physical therapists
•Adaptive Driving Aids including easy grip key holders, over-sized rear-view mirrors and seat belt extenders
•Many seniors self-limit their driving by limiting their driving to only fair weather, daytime, and familiar location
For a current listing of transportation options in Middle Tennessee, search the Directory of Services for Seniors.
• Metropolitan Social Services provides transportation to certain area nutrition sites in Davidson County. (615-862-8840)
• Metro Transit Authority provides a travel trainer program which provides assistance and training with riding the metro bus. (615-880-3282)
• Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency provides curb-to-curb transportation in the 12 counties surrounding Davidson County during the week (Monday through Friday). Reservations are requested 24 hours in advance for local trips and 72 hours in advance for out-of-county trips.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – August 26, 2016 – Home Instead Senior Care, the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, donated nearly $62,000 to the Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center and the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee this week. The donation is a part of an effort to empower area seniors and help them remain independent.
“This past July, Home Instead invited the Nashville community to support programs and services for seniors with a donation to the Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center or the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee during the first-ever GIVE65 event,” said Maggie Lea, owner of the Home Instead office serving Wilson County. “The inaugural GIVE65 event included 62 nonprofits from 31 states and was part of an initiative of the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation focused exclusively on helping nonprofit organizations from across the country raise funds for programs and services benefiting seniors.
Home Instead Senior Care matched all Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center donations up to $5,000. Accepting on behalf of the center Wednesday, August 24 was Patty Watts, director of Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center and Mayor Philip Craighead of Lebanon, Tenn. The two accepted a $46,694.82 check.
The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee received $15,292.39 Friday, August 26. Grace Smith, executive director at the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee and council board member, Edward Cole accepted the donation.
“We’re thrilled to donate money to Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center and the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee to help them continue to enhance the quality of life for seniors, especially those who are most in need of our help,” said Lea.
GIVE65 donations will help the Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center and the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee support aging adults in the Nashville and Mt. Juliet communities. The Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center enhances the lives of seniors through programs that enhance their physical and mental well-being. In addition to being a place for seniors to gather and socialize, the center offers Alzheimer’s and dementia training, health screenings and classes in art, music and fitness. The Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee addresses the unmet needs of older adults and caregivers through information, advocacy and education and by being a catalyst for comprehensive solutions.
To learn more about GIVE65 or the GIVE65 Event, visit GIVE65.org. For more information about the Home Instead serving Mt. Juliet, visit www.homeinstead.com/719. Learn more about the Lebanon Senior Citizen’s Center at www.give65.org/lebanonseniorcenter, and the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee at www.coamidtn.org.
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Home Instead Senior Care Foundation is proud to present GIVE65 – the first crowd-fundraising platform exclusively devoted to helping nonprofits raise funds online for programs and services that create hope for seniors. At GIVE65.org, selected nonprofit organizations in the United States are invited to showcase projects and social service programs helping seniors and those who care for them. People who have a desire to help less fortunate, vulnerable seniors can visit GIVE65.org to share a secure, online donation in support of the featured nonprofit they choose. By combining technology and generosity, GIVE65 inspires greater charitable giving in support of seniors and those who care for them. Visit www.GIVE65.org to learn more.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE FOUNDATION
Since its founding in 2003, Home Instead Senior Care Foundation has been helping less fortunate and vulnerable aging adults. The Foundation has invested nearly $2 million in nonprofit organizations serving seniors throughout the United States and Canada. The mission of the Foundation is to enhance the lives of aging adults and those who care for them. This mission is made possible, in part, thanks to Home Instead, Inc., as well as generous sponsors and donations from the general public. To learn more about the Foundation, visit www.homeinsteadseniorcarefoundation.org.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, this network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 50 million hours of care throughout the United States and 11 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual’s needs. Services span the care continuum from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it’s relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service.
Resources for Senior Driver Safety
COA is a founding member of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) Tennessee Coalition for the Safety of Senior Drivers. As part of this group, COA helped create two older driver safety booklets:
◾Decisions for Tennessee’s Senior Driver (for seniors)
- Senior driving.aaa.com – A helpful website for seniors, family members and professionals which includes: driving self assessments, safe driving resources, planning for continued mobility post driving, driver refresher training and state license policies & practices.
- AARP Driver Safety Program 1-888-227-7669
This course (two four-hour sessions) is designed by AARP to alert seniors to normal age-related changes that affect driving capabilities. The course is also intended to help drivers improve their skills. Tennessee requires insurance companies to discount the cost of collision coverage for those seniors who successfully complete the course. There is a small fee for the classes. AARP also offers an online course.
- www.aaafoundation.org/seniordrivers provides driver self assessment and Roadwise Rx, searchable statewide drivers policies link and many other helpful resources.
- To help Older Adults Plan for a Non-Driving Future, Eldercare Locator created this brochure feature tips and tools to help older drivers and their caregivers make a transportation plan before they give up the keys.