As we age or encounter disabling conditions, our mobility can be significantly impacted. In the natural aging process eyesight becomes compromised, minds slow down, hearing lessens and access is limited. Regardless of age some conditions, such as stroke, amputation and certain degenerative diseases lessen our ability to get around. When any of these realities face us physically and mentally, our independence challenges us emotionally.
For individuals and for families, decisions about limiting mobility can be very challenging. Safety becomes an essential consideration, both for the person with limitations and for other people who either care for them or may interact with them on the road in their cars, or bicycles or walking. Fortunately, there have been great improvements on mobility assists that can extend both the ability to get around and the real sense of independence. Within the home, all sorts of appliances, motorized scooters, ramps and alarms are available.
For leaving the home, there are also a number of options. Public transportation is becoming more and more sophisticated in transporting people from place to place. Buses have been adapted to actually kneel for easier entry, special ramps for wheel chairs and motorized scooters and driver education to the needs of those who can use regularly scheduled bus routes. In the Vancouver area, CTRAN is the bus service that operates throughout Clark County. TriMet is the Portland Metropolitan transportation system that includes buses, streetcars and light rail. The two systems interact with each other so that it is quite possible to board a bus in Battleground WA and make a trip to Hillsboro OR. Both systems rely on fares and those fares are less for seniors and those who are disabled. In order to receive those fares, consult the web sites or call them.
CTRAN has a special service called CVAN. “CVAN is a curb-to-curb, shared-ride transportation service for individuals with disabilities and, because of their disability are unable to us ‘CTRAN’s regular buses. Passengers must meet the ADA of 1990 eligibility standards to receive services. Unfortunately, eligibility determination is not a quick process. It will require several weeks and is started by contacting CVAN via phone, (360)-695-8918. This will result in a pre-application questionnaire that must be turned in and, if eligible all full application will be sent to you. St. Luke’s has a number of members who use CVAN to come to church. The church has purchased tickets for those who need the assistance. Members are dropped off at the church before services and are picked up after services. Individuals must make reservations for each trip and the wait time, either before services or after services will vary with who else is being delivered on that trip. The number for reservations is 360-695-0123. CTRAN’s website is www.c-tran.org.
When to stop driving.
It is a difficult decision to stop driving one’s own car. As mentioned above, the safety of the driver, passengers, other cars, bicyclists and walkers is at stake in the decisions. Ultimately, if a family is unable to convince a driver to give up his or her keys, a call to the Washington State Patrol will assist in the process. That number is 10 Signs That it’s Time to Limit or Stop Driving “Learn what to look for in yourself and others” by: AARP Driver Safety, from: AARP, January 2010 Most people want to continue driving for as long as they can do so safely. However, for many people, a time will come when they must limit or stop driving, either temporarily or permanently.
Following are some warning signs that indicate a person should begin to limit or stop driving.
- Almost crashing, with frequent “close calls”
- Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.
- Getting lost, especially in familiar locations
- Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings
- Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals
- Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps
- Experiencing road rage or causing other drivers to honk or complain
- Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving
- Having a hard time turning around to check the rear view while backing up or changing lanes
- Receiving multiple traffic tickets or “warnings” from law enforcement officers.
If you notice one or more of these cautionary signs in yourself, or in a loved one who is driving, you might want to register yourself or that person for a driver-improvement course, such as the classroom or online courses offered by AARP Driver Safety. You may also want information about speaking to friends and loved ones about their driving. The “We Need to Talk” program, developed by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab helps drivers and their loved ones to recognize warning signs. It also helps families initiate productive and caring conversations with older adults about driving safety. It’s also a good idea to talk to a doctor about concentration or memory problems, or other physical symptoms that can lessen driving ability.