02/06/2019

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, 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?

Many older adults rely on driving to stay mobile and independent. Aging can result in changes in your ability to get around and do the things you want and need to do. These mobility changes might adversely affect older adults’ health and independence and are often related to an increased risk of falls and motor vehicle crash injury—the two leading causes of older adult injury. For example, age-related declines in vision can affect driving abilities and increase the risk for falling. One in four adults who are now 65 years old will live into their 90’s. Many Americans outlive their ability to drive safely by several years. 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.

CDC developed MyMobility Plan, a tool to encourage older adults to take action now to remain safe, mobile, and independent as they get older. Older adults can use MyMobility Plan to prepare for potential mobility changes in much the same way they might plan financially for retirement.

MyMobility Plan is aimed at adults ages 60-74—people who are still active but should start planning for mobility changes in the future. The tool 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, helping older adults identify all the places they go, how they get there now, and how they might get there in the future.

CDC conducted multiple rounds of testing with older adults as well as experts in the field of aging to develop MyMobility Plan. Older adults in focus groups responded positively to MyMobility Plan, found it easy to use, and said they would recommend the tool to others to help them remain safe, mobile, and independent. Older adults also thought it would help initiate important conversations with older relatives or friends that might be difficult for some people.

For older adults who want to stay in their own homes and communities, planning for changes in mobility is essential. Staying healthy and managing chronic conditions, making 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.

 

By Laurie Beck, MPH
Epidemiologist, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention