Centralina AAA Develops Resources to Address Transportation Issues and Expand Options

As our region grows, our population is also aging, which adds increased demands on public, private and volunteer transportation options. According to the American Journal of Public Health, individuals can expect to live between six to 10 years retired from driving, so access to transportation is of particular importance for older and disabled adults. In fact, transportation is regularly identified among the top unmet needs among older and disabled adults.  

In response, Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA) developed a variety of resources to increase awareness of this unmet need as well as link consumers to appropriate transportation alternatives. Centralina AAA does not directly provide transportation services, but rather, we work with the transportation providers across the region and administer federal and state grant funding to local providers to offer transportation services. In addition, through our toll-free telephone support line, we regularly help consumers locate transportation services.  

Additionally, Centralina’s transportation initiatives involve more than the work of the aging department. Meeting the transportation needs and creating a safe, connected mobility system for older adults is a priority of CONNECT Beyond’s plan and is incorporated into many of the plan’s recommendations. 

As May includes National Older Americans Month, National Mobility Month and National Transportation Week, the following resources offer a timely highlight of the Centralina AAA’s ongoing commitment to promote transportation considerations affecting older and disabled adults:   

Transportation Video Mini-Series  

Centralina AAA created a series of three short videos to inform the audience about transportation considerations for older adults and people with disabilities. Topics include: 

Transportation for Older Adults, People with Disabilities and Caregivers: A Critical Lifeline Supporting Independence 

In this video, Melissa Gray, Assistant Director of the National Aging and Disability Center (NADTC) provides an overview of the NADTC, the importance of transportation, transportation challenges and barriers and transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities.  

AARP Driver Resources Overview   

AARP Associate State Director, Rebecca Gilbert, presents an overview of the resources AARP has for older drivers including: Driver Safety Program, Smart DriverTEK, CarFit and the “We Need To Talk” program that helps determine how to assess older adults driving skills and provide tools to help you have conversations about retiring from driving.  

How to Find Transportation Options in North Carolina 

Led by Linda Miller, Centralina AAA Director and Chair of the North Carolina Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and David Rhew, Director of the North Carolina Public Transportation Association, this video includes information about finding transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities in North Carolina. 

Transportation Guide for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

The transportation guide is a resource designed by Centralina Area Agency on Aging to aid both individuals and community service agencies. It is available in both English and Spanish with hard copies available by request. The guide includes definitions of the different types of transportation services and lists contact information for the corresponding services agencies across the nine-county Centralina region as well as our neighboring counties to the south–Lancaster and York Counties in South Carolina. In addition to helpful tips and considerations when using transportation services, the guide also explains services such as Lyft and Uber and how to use them. A needs checklist is also included to help individuals clarify their transportation needs. 

Transportation Toolkit   

Community service agencies are tasked with more responsibilities than ever before, including providing educational programs for participants. To help meet this need, Centralina AAA created a transportation resource toolkit that offers something for everyone including service agency staff, older individuals who drive and those who need transportation services. Included in the toolkit is a brief PowerPoint presentation that can easily be shown to participant groups at senior centers, nutrition sites and other human service agencies. We’ve included a bit of transportation trivia and games as well!  

Save The Date: Transportation Webinar  

Beyond Driving with Dignity 

May 31, 2023 from 10:00 a.m. -11:30 a.m. 

Developed in 2008 by former Ohio state trooper Matt Gurwell, Beyond Driving with Dignity is a facilitated self-assessment program for older drivers. Led by certified Senior Advisor Mike Mannion, this webinar will highlight Beyond Driving with Dignity, a program designed to help the older driver determine if it is appropriate to retire from driving or if they are safe to continue to drive. More information here.  

In Closing

Transportation is vitally important to all individuals, as it links us to necessary goods and services such as groceries, pharmacies, healthcare, social and religious activities, employment and much more. A key social determinant of health, transportation access is the leading cause of patient no-shows at medical appointments, which are linked to increased medical costs. Access to transportation also affects other health-related needs, such as issues surrounding nutrition and social isolation. Summarized by Katie Kutcher, Assistant Aging Programs Director, “Transportation is a lifeline that connects older adults and people with disabilities to community services and supports. Centralina is committed to educating the community about transportation considerations and options, and we are excited to offer this information in a variety of educational formats such as the regional transportation guide, brief videos and webinars!” 

The efforts of Centralina’s mobility initiative were recently recognized by USAging. Centralina AAA won the 2023 Aging Achievement Award in the transportation and mobility category. The mobility management team will receive the well-deserved award at USAging’s national conference in Salt Lake City  this summer.