600,000 people over age 70 stop driving every year

But they still have places to go, people to see, things to do. So how do they stay mobile once their ability to drive is gone?

As we’ve noted frequently, seismic demographic shifts are underway as America races towards 400 million in population. One of them is an approaching “senior tsunami,” with nearly 1 in 5 Americans expected to be over age 65 by the year 2030. The overwhelming majority of seniors prefer — and will choose — to age in place. But many of their places aren’t made for aging non-drivers.

From “Senior transportation a growing concern” in USA Today:

Concern over how the bulging population of seniors will get around in a sprawling nation heavily dependent on the automobile is paramount among advocates for the elderly — so much so that Markwood’s group [National Association of Area Agencies on Aging] is making transportation the centerpiece of its annual “Home for the Holidays” campaign. “Half of American households don’t have access to adequate transportation options other than cars,” Markwood says. “Rural America and suburbs don’t have public transportation available.”

We can alleviate some of the pressure down the road by investing today in transportation options and creating neighborhoods of choice so that today’s 45-year-olds can have the choice of living somewhere that will afford them the ability to stay mobile once their ability to drive is gone.

But the challenge will still remain in making today’s suburbs more walkable, more accessible, and more friendly to non-drivers. From “Drive to keep going,” in the Washington Post over the weekend:

With the Jack Kerouac generation already well on the road toward retirement, demographers and experts on aging are urging policymakers to invest in new public transportation options. The shortage of suitable transportation for older residents will become especially acute in the suburbs, not only because transportation there revolves around the automobile, but also because boomers who grew up in the suburbs appear to be staying there.

Figuring out how to ensure the mobility of those who remain in car-dependent places is crucial today and for years to come as seniors grow in number, live longer, and therefore have more years they need to stay mobile post-driving.

The Aging in Place Initiative
AARP – Livable Communities and Aging in Place
SGA – Aging Americans: Stranded Without Options