Older, Mobile and Independent – It’s Possible!

How a new tool from CDC’s Injury Center helps older adults plan for mobility changes.

January 22, 2019

We know that one in four adults who are 65 years old today will live well into their 90s. It’s likely that many of us will outlive our ability to drive safely by several years.

As we age, we can expect declines in our ability to get around and do the things we want and need to do. Chronic conditions may affect our physical health, and an increase in medication may come with side effects like drowsiness and dizziness that can make driving a problem. Having a plan to protect our mobility and independence not only makes sense, it may ensure that we don’t lose out on quality of life if we have to stop driving in the future.

CDC found that providing retirement-age adults with information on how to protect their mobility as they age motivated them to take action. CDC’s Injury Center developed MyMobility Plan as a tool to help older adults prepare for potential mobility changes in much the same way you might plan financially for retirement. Changes will come, so how do you best position yourself to meet these changes? You can take action now to help remain safe, mobile, and independent in the future.

MyMobility Plan has three sections that help older adults maintain mobility, make their homes safer by preventing falls and consider alternative transportation as they age. Older adults who have used the tool say it helped them start conversations with family members about scheduling medical exams, checking their homes for hazards and learning about driving options.

One woman who used MyMobility Plan said, “Sometimes you don’t think about things until you have a reason — an accident, you’re dizzy, or you fall. … This makes you start thinking about a process that you might need to do sooner (rather) than later.”

Users found that making a MyMobility Plan for their older relatives made them think about how they might deal with their own future mobility challenges. The resulting discussions were "a soft way of planting the seed to say, ‘Well, you know, look at your parents. … Maybe in 20 years you will be like that.' " One user reported she was enthusiastic about making a MyMobility Plan because it would decrease the burden on her family.

“I’m a single parent of an adult only child, and I would like to make things as easy for her and as least impactful on her," she said.

For older adults who want to stay in their own homes and communities as they age, planning for changes in mobility is essential. Staying healthy and managing chronic conditions, making some simple home modifications and learning about transportation options can make a sizeable difference in one’s quality of life. Aging doesn't have to mean losing your independence. Make a plan today to help stay independent tomorrow.

Ann Dellinger

Ann Dellinger, PhD, MPH, is home, recreation and transportation branch chief at National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

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