A Conversation About Aging

By Kim Fernandez

Somewhere along the way—don’t ask me how—my personal email address was added to a press list somewhere and every P.R. person peddling every product you can think of (and some you should be glad you haven’t imagined) started bombarding me with emails. Most days, it’s an annoyance. Yesterday, though, one of them caught my eye.

GoGoGrandparent is a fee-based, subscription service that lets elderly people use a landline or basic cell phone to use Uber. They call a human relay who sets up the ride and will, if it’s part of the membership, send a family member or friend text message updates every time the service is used: Where the elderly person is going, who their driver is, when they arrive at their destination, and all the same information for the ride home.

All of you who, like me, have elderly relatives, say it in unison: Brilliant. I think—I hope—it’s just the start of a revolution in mobility for people who will age somewhere other than assisted living properties. On the surface, it seems like a huge step forward in offering independence to older folks who can’t or won’t drive anymore, especially those for whom walking is difficult, which can make public transportation unrealistic.

We talk a lot about mobility but most of the conversation seems to be about able-bodied, younger people who can get themselves around pretty easily. But the number of elderly Americans is projected to double by 2060 and the aging of the Baby Boom generation could triple the number of Americans age 65 and older, according to the Population Reference Bureau; an increasing number of those folks (some will be us) won’t have family nearby in their golden years.

Shared autonomous vehicles are projected to be part of the answer, but what’s being done now to ensure this huge generation, and those after it, will maintain their mobility? If it’s a conversation your organization is having, I’d love to talk to you more—shoot me a note or leave your thoughts in the comments here.

Kim Fernandez is IPI’s director of publications and editor of The Parking Professional.

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