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NAELA News Journal - NAELA News Online

Planning for Mobility and Independence Without a Car

By Lisa Caucci, JD, MA
Published February 2019
This new tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help your clients think about and plan for their future mobility and independence when driving a car is no longer an option.

How would you get to the grocery store if you suddenly found yourself unable to drive? Would you be able to get to doctor appointments, or social engagements, or church? Could you walk to the places you need to go, or could friends and family drive you? Does your community have reliable public transportation or rideshare services? These may be pressing questions for your clients and their family. Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7-10 years.1 That means it is crucial for older adults to have a plan to protect their mobility and independence if they have to stop driving in the future.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages older adults to create a plan for their mobility, just as they would make a financial plan for retirement. CDC developed the MyMobility Plan to help older adults take action to maintain optimal mobility, avoid falls, and secure their independence even if they can no longer drive.

MyMobility Plan is aimed at adults ages 60-74—people who are still active but should start planning for the future. MyMobility Plan has three sections for older adults to work through and create a plan to keep themselves healthy, ensure their homes are safe, and consider alternatives to driving. The first section focuses on physical health, including the importance of yearly eye exams, medication reviews, and activities to improve strength and balance. The second section helps older adults check their homes for safety hazards, such as cluttered floors, poor lighting, and loose or broken railings that could cause a fall. The third section focuses on planning for transportation changes with a table for adults to list all the places they go, how they get there now, and how they might get there in the future.

A CDC evaluation of MyMobility Plan found that providing retirement-age adults with information on how to protect their mobility as they age motivated them to take action.2 Focus groups of older adults responded positively to MyMobility Plan, found it easy to use, and said they would recommend it to others to help them remain safe, mobile, and independent. Participants also thought it would help initiate important conversations with older relatives or friends that may be difficult for some people. 

For older adults who want to stay in their own homes and communities, planning for changes in mobility as they get older is essential. Staying healthy and managing chronic conditions, making some simple home modifications, and learning about transportation options can help older adults prepare for mobility changes. CDC has the tools and resources to help older Americans make a plan today so that they can stay independent tomorrow.

Citations
1  Foley DJ, Heimovitz HK, Guralnik JM, Brock DB. Driving life expectancy of persons aged 70 years and older in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2002;92(8):1284-9.
2  Bergen G, Brustrom, J, Moreland, B. Encouraging older adults to protect their mobility: CDC’s Mobility Planning Tool. Poster session presented at: the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting, 2018 Nov 14-18; Boston, MA.
About the Author
Lisa Caucci, JD, MA, is a Public Health Policy Analyst in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, Ga.