Mobility in Later Life and Wellbeing
Transport is more important to older people than ever before. We live in, what is termed by academics in the transport field, as a “hypermobile” society. One where high levels of mobility are needed in order to stay connected to communities, friends and family and to access shops and services. The car has been central to this hyper-connectivity. Being mobile is linked to quality of life. In particular, giving up driving in later life has repeatedly been shown to related to a decrease in wellbeing and an increase in depression and related health problems, including feelings of stress and isolation and also increased mortality. Recent figures from Great Britain suggest around 342,000 over 75뭱year olds ‘feel trapped’ in their own homes through lack of suitable transport after giving-up driving. In previous work, myself and my colleague examined why mobility is important to older people. We placed the need for mobility around three main motivational domains, utility (mobility as a need to get from A to B), psychosocial (mobility that effects independence, identity and roles) and aesthetic needs (mobility for its own sake) in a hierarchical manner. This chapter will examine case studies of life beyond the car in three main areas (older people as pedestrians, older people using public transport and older people receiving lifts from friends and family) as well as examining a group of older drivers identifying to what extent the three levels of need, utility, psychosocial and aesthetic are met. Driving a car satisfies all three levels of mobility need. Results suggest that transport provision beyond the car neglects psychosocial needs of mobility and sporadically meets practical and aesthetic needs depending upon the wider social context.
KeywordsAgeing Older people Car driving Walking Bus Motivations Needs Passengers Social support
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