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Transportation Services, Utilization and Needs of the Elderly in Non-Urban Areas; Patterns in Two Kentucky Communities
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Transportation Services, Utilization and Needs of the Elderly in Non-Urban Areas; Patterns in Two Kentucky Communities
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    It is now axiomatic that America's population is growing older. Primary indicators of this aging are the number of individuals age 65 years and over (which increased from about 26 million in 1980 to over 33 million by 1990) and the elderly percentage of the total population (which increased from just above 11 percent in 1980 to 13 percent in 1990). It is likewise widely acknowledged that the link between transportation and needs of the elderly continues to be absolutely critical. In fact, access requirements are among the select group of issues which highlight the agenda for elderly research in the next decade (Rosenbloom, 1988). In this perspective the availability of transport for critical or life threatening needs, e.g. medical care, is of paramount concern, as is access to such routine life maintenance needs as grocery or clothing shopping. Yet too often we fail to realize that the opportunity for the elderly to travel, for social and recreational purposes, on a regular basis as opposed to incidental participation, is closely related to the enhancement of the quality of life, and physical as well as emotional well being. This social aspect of the derived, as opposed to the intrinsic, utility of transportation must receive increased attention as an access goal and policy objective. The salient point here is that, for whatever purpose, it is important that mobility be assured for our elderly population since it is critically related to their enhanced quality of life and indeed their life expectancy. Our research seeks to provide a deeper understanding of mobiltiy problems among the elderly in non-urban areas by exploring the real needs of the elderly and the actual response of communities and their populations to these needs. Within this specific context we aim at answering a series of general questions. First, why do the elderly travel? Second, where do the elderly travel? Third, how do the elderly travel, and finally what is the nature and impact of existing transport alternatives?
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