Assessing and Addressing the Mobility Needs of an Aging Population
The mobility needs of an aging population is one of the most substantial challenges facing California in the coming decades. The number of residents age 65 and older is expected to double between 2012 and 2050, and the number age 85 and above is expected to increase by over 70% between 2010 and 2030. Declines in physical function related to age may reduce mobility options dramatically. A survey of 510 residents age 55 and older in Contra Costa County was conducted to determine mobility patterns and limitations related to age and other factors. Results of the survey indicate that a majority of seniors are car dependent. However, some older adults miss important activities due to mobility limitations associated with increasing age, poorer health, living alone, not having a licensed driver in the household, and having a disability. Mobility options are also limited in some geographic areas and demographic groups. Importantly, older adults want to “age in place.” Based on these findings and those in related studies, the travel options and the quality of life for older adults, now and in the future, can be greatly enhanced if efforts are made to develop mobility solutions beyond use of private vehicles. The findings support the recommendations of recent regional plans such as the Coordinated Public Transit–Human Services Transportation Plan (2018), adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) of the San Francisco Bay Area, which recommends supporting a range of mobility options centered around shared mobility and accessibility for populations at risk for limited mobility.