Many communities have ample transportation services for their elderly and residents with disabilities who don’t drive, but those services are often too difficult to find, according to a new national survey.
Eighty percent of people with a disability and 40 percent of older adults who don’t drive said they couldn’t do all the activities and errands they needed or wanted to do because they couldn’t get around, according to the survey of about 1,650 people by KRC Research for the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center.
Many said it had left them feeling frustrated, isolated, trapped and dependent on others.
The study found a key problem in there being no single go-to source for finding local transportation services, such as transit options, ride-share programs, shuttle services, assisted van rides and volunteer driver programs, Caregivers said they, too, found it difficult and time-consuming to get help, with about 40 percent saying they spent five to 10 hours or more per week helping someone get around.
The problem is particularly acute in small towns and rural areas, the study found.
Virginia Dize, the transportation center’s co-director, said the data confirmed a problem that social workers and others who work with the elderly and disabled have known for years.
“People really don’t know where to go to get this information,” she said.
The transportation center, Easterseals and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging are launching an “Every Ride Counts” campaign to help local transportation agencies and those that serve the elderly and disabled provide more information. The campaign includes marketing materials that agencies with tight budgets can customize with local information, Dize said.
Finding that caregivers also lacked information, Dize said, led to the campaign branching out beyond agencies that serve the elderly and disabled.
“We learned we need to cast a very wide net,” she said.