Seniors will put new demands on transport

Alberta’s seniors’ population is expected to grow by 40 per cent over the next 20 years, leaving experts pondering future transportation needs.

Alberta’s seniors’ population is expected to grow by 40 per cent over the next 20 years, leaving experts pondering future transportation needs.

Since most people will outlive their driving abilities by seven to 10 years, the elderly must at some point rely on other methods of transportation, said research assistant Param Bhardwaj of the University of Alberta’s Medically at-Risk Driver Centre in the Department of Family Medicine.

These include public transit, handi-buses, rides organized through seniors centres, and those informally arranged through family and friends.

Bhardwaj said an earlier survey of transportation providers indicated that all needs were not being met — particularly in rural regions.

This is a concern, because “to keep people having a high quality of life, their mobility must not be hindered,” he added.

The University of Alberta’s population research lab is hoping to conduct a 20-minute phone survey with some 900 randomly selected seniors by mid-March.

These elderly people living in urban and rural areas will be asked how they get around, with the goal of identifying gaps in service.

“We want to see if an unmet need is there,” said Bhardwaj, who noted a report compiled from survey results by the end of March will be made available to the public through the Medically at-Risk Driver Centre website, www.mard.ualberta.ca.

If gaps are discovered, “it’s very important that policymakers are on board to make a change,” he added.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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