Driving represents freedom and independence for the elderly—the ability to visit friends, go to the movies and shop—without relying on anyone else. Understandably, the ability to go where they want is important to seniors. Often overlooked is another important consideration: Seniors have strong opinions about “how” they want to get there. The elderly equate losing their driving privilege with being dependent, feeling trapped, perhaps losing choice, control, and spontaneity in life. This need not be the case.
Seniors and their families need to be reminded that one of the reasons for a move to a Continuing Care Retirement Community such as Rincon del Rio is the provision for safe, convenient, economical transportation. In actuality, there is no need for the worry of driving, the expense of a car, the need for maintenance, fuel, safety checks, and insurance.
The solution to reducing trips off-site is well thought-out on-site circulation. Since there are many on-site amenities, the trick is to make town center destinations pedestrian and bike friendly, fun to visit, and socially fulfilling.
Rincon del Rio has groomed and paved trails and walkways to provide connectivity. There will be golf carts and bikes readily available in each neighborhood. Employees in the area moving between tasks will be more than happy to give anyone a lift, or one call to the office will send on-site transportation to your location.
Rincon del Rio intends to mitigate traffic concerns with a three pronged approach—Educate, Provide, Encourage
Educate: When the question of declining driving abilities becomes personal, the issues involved with elderly driving are very emotional. Elderly drivers might get defensive—even angry—when the subject of their driving abilities is raised. Thus, residents need to be included in the decision making process rather than dictate a decision to them. The matter should be brought up in group meetings, with family members, doctors and other people residents respect such as clergy and friends.
This education process need not be confrontational but rather matter of fact through frequent discussion of how aging affects the ability to drive safely. There is a real upside to using on-site provided transportation. For one thing, elderly drivers need not adapt behaviors such as avoiding traveling at night, going only to familiar locations, avoiding freeways, leaving early for an appointment, heading home before sundown, and staying close to home.
Provide: Rincon del Rio will run several shuttles daily, as well as encourage groups to car pool using community vehicles including a pick-up, small SUV’s, sedans, and larger four-wheel drive cars. To provide dignified alternatives to the reliance on having their own car, there will be available arranged transportation for appointments and special events.
Transit locator devices with be available to each resident as well as touch screen devices that utilize sophisticated software to arrange for common car pools, a community car, a private driver, or an “errand” runner who will pick up and/or deliver twice daily.
Now when a daughter comes to see her mother it will be for lunch and companionship rather than to complete a task or drive to an appointment in town.
Encourage: Rincon del Rio will be open to alternatives to mitigate traffic on Rincon Way. We will study what services and amenities should be provided within our community and attempt to reduce offsite trips by meeting on-site whatever resident needs and requests we can. We will make it easy and socially rewarding to coalesce off-site trips and errands. The guard gate will be aware of trends and we will find ways to meet the transportation needs of our residents.
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If you have suggestions or questions for Rincon del Rio, please contact Carol: Carol@Rincondelrio.com
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