2017 is here already and Williams Occupational Therapy has a lot of exciting things in store for this year. Our primary goals for the New Year, however, is to continue to promote safe driving for our clients and their families, and provide assistance modifying driving techniques or seeking alternative transport options.
As the second part of a series of blog posts promoting and outlining techniques for safe driving for older drivers, this post will highlight what other sources have recommended when promoting safe driving and transport of older citizens. We will draw upon information from South Australian Government, Taxi Council of SA, and Home and Community Care options.
Understandably, not being able to drive or be on the road as much as you once were can feel like you have had your independence stripped away from you. As they say, you don’t realise how much you value and require something until it is taken away from you.
Thankfully, when the time comes that you or someone you know decides it is unsafe to continue to use our roads; there are alternative transport options, some of which come with subsidies.
This topic has been a common discussion topic of late, with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) holding their Older Driver Safety Awareness Week last month (5th until 9th December 2016). This promotional week encouraged understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active within the community, especially with the confidence that transport is not a barrier preventing them from leaving their home.
Throughout the week the AOTA focused on various aspects of older driver safety. With information being presented by fellow OTs, key points identified included but not included too; anticipating a change that can affect driving, having family conversations to discuss options, screening and evaluations with an occupational therapist, interventions to empower older drivers, and staying engaged in the community.
More information about the awareness week as well as information highlighted and discussed can be found at the link below under ‘references’ or at the link here.
The bus, tram and train
Adelaide Metro bus, tram and train service is a great alternative transport option that often drops you off right out the front of your destination. Today, Adelaide Metro is a well-established service and offers transport all over Metropolitan Adelaide and also provides discounted fares for concession card holders. Almost all Busses and trams/trains have wheelchair/scooter access ramps to ensure that all citizens, no matter disability, can utilise this great public transport service. The website allows you to plan your trip and it takes into account how far you need to walk to or from transport stops to your destination. The Adelaide Metro website can be found here or in the reference section at the end of this post.
An alternative option for older individuals that are unable to drive is to investigate Council HACC (Home and Community Care) programs. These programs are available in most South Australian council regions and can be found by simply searching your local council web page, or popping in and enquiring. As a guide, the Adelaide City Council page can be found here.
The HACC programs provide short-term support service for people aged over 65 years who require assistance to remain living independently in their homes. Aiming to work alongside participants to help them achieve their wellness and enablement goals, HACC programs can assist with transport or provide education and assistance in organising public transport options, such as bus and taxi services.
Speaking of taxi services, there is a Taxi Fare Subsidy Scheme available to assist people with permanent and severe disabilities that limit their ability to use public transport. Taxi fares can be subsidised up to 75% for people that are confined to a wheelchair, and 50% for individuals that are not confined to a wheelchair.
These subsidies are provided through the South Australian Transport Subsidy Scheme and can offer significant financial savings for individuals that rely heavily on taxi services as their primary mode of transport. In order to be eligible, you need to simply complete an application form, which can be found through the link at the bottom of this post or here.
What about UBER
Personally, I am not familiar with UBER, but understand that it is similar to a taxi service but offers subtle differences that could make travelling more convenient.
I have included some web page links here for further information:
Assistance from others
We know that when an older adult forgoes their licence they mainly rely of family and friends for transport. This is despite the options mentioned above. Multiple studies also show that previous drivers are reluctant to ask for transport assistance and as a result often become more socially isolated.
What about if the burden of asking for a lift was not so bad? What about if the lift was to return a favour?
As a retired driver, do you have another skill? Can you cook a lovely batch of biscuits or a cake? Put out someone’s bins? Iron some clothes? Cook a meal? Pull some weeds? Home-sit a pet during the day while others are at work?
Could you use a skill that you have as currency for transport?
It may take some bravery to broach the subject and some creativity to find a skill that someone else could benefit from.
We have learnt that there have been many successful reincarnations of the trade system used for transport. It has developed and forged some great friendships. We have also learnt that this system has worked very well in a retirement village where people advertise what skill they have to offer others in their community. Maybe this is something you can introduce to your community?
While it may seem that all of your independence has gone when you no longer have your drivers licence, there are various alternative and safe options that can assist you with your transport. And the best thing of all is that you don’t have to give up any of your social or community activities that you enjoy!