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Coping Without a Car

9 November 2004

Coping Without a Car

Research from Victoria University has highlighted the sense of loss older people feel when they are forced to cope without a car in later life.

Associate Professor Judith Davey, Director of the New Zealand Institute for Research on Ageing, based at Victoria, has completed research commissioned by the Office for Senior Citizens, Ministry of Social Development, that explores how coping without a car affects older citizens. The people interviewed had an average age of 80.

While coping without a car depends on a range of factors, including location and the availability of other transport options, personal health and mobility levels, Associate Professor Davey also found that the impact of losing access to a car affected men far more than women.

Men were more likely to associate driving with a sense of individuality, independence and status, while many women from this age group had either never driven or gave up driving earlier in life.

“Women were also more likely to have retained social networks throughout their lives and were far more likely to cope with being a passenger than men,” she says,

“Public transport is not available everywhere and less than half of the respondents used bus services because of the difficulties associated with getting on and off the bus.”

“Public transport could be a more attractive and viable option for older people if access and safety issues were addressed.

“Interestingly, only a minority of respondents knew about community transport options, where door-to-door transport is co-ordinated by volunteer or community organisations.”

The report also highlights the distinction between serious and discretionary travel, where older people feel more comfortable about asking family or friends for lifts to medical appointments, shopping and special occasions, than they do for travelling on a whim or for pleasure. This can curtail their choices and range of activities.

ENDS

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