Transportation continues to be a hot topic across Middle Tennessee. As Music City and the surrounding area continue to grow, so does the need to find a solution for safe, reliable, accessible and affordable transportation for all residents.
As an advocate for older adults in the community, FiftyForward is actively working toward solutions to broaden accessibility to our programs and services that eliminate isolation and promote continued engagement, education and healthy living - all key components to maintaining the highest quality of life as people age.
This past spring, FiftyForward engaged in a robust strategic planning process conducting surveys, interviews and focus groups with volunteers, community leaders, program participants, stakeholders and staff members to reveal and explore the unmet needs of older adults in our community.
Transportation was at the top of the list. When asked, "Where do you see the greatest unmet needs among individuals 50 and older?" More than 27 percent of respondents mentioned transportation. FiftyForward is committed to increasing transportation options for its members and clients so they can continue to lead independent and fulfilling lives.
The daughter of a center member shared how critical transportation is. "She [my mother] was stuck at home because she got shingles. She was driving until then ... but it affected her eyesight. I told her, 'mom, you need to get out more. You need more socialization,' so I called the center and found out that they had a van here that picked folks up twice a week ... We had to go on a waiting list, which was kind of sad because I imagine that there are people on a waiting list right now that need this facility and need this opportunity to be able to get out of their homes."
During the strategic planning process, participants were asked, "What do you value most about FiftyForward?" The responses (below) speak volumes about the need for engagement to counter isolation. Transportation is a critical component to getting folks out in the community.
- "Without FiftyForward I would not have made the volunteering connections that I have. I would not have the friendships I have developed, or the fun. I treasure each hour that I volunteer. Don't stop assisting seniors in their search for the best place for each individual to volunteer and fulfill their need to be productive and useful."
- "Retirement was hard for me. Being involved has gotten me out of the house, allowed me to meet people and [has] given me the opportunity to learn new skills like writing and art. In short, FiftyForward has saved my life."
- "It's [FiftyForward] given me hope. Hope to see that life is or can be pleasant and meaningful as I am growing older ... and, it has helped me increase my overall health with exercise and diet through the wonderful programs, seminars and events."
- "I have been put on disability due to a terminal illness and coming there [to FiftyForward] helps me not be so depressed. I also have bone and joint issues. Aerobics and yoga help me stay stronger at my core. Talking to other seniors helps me know that I am not alone with pains and aches."
Anna Claire Hoffman is the special initiatives coordinator at FiftyForward. For additional information on FiftyForward centers, programs and resources, please visit FiftyForward.org or call 615-743-3400. Join our social conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.