Transportation for the Elderly by Martin Wachs.
In Transportation /or the Elderly, the author approaches elderly transportation needs from a new vantage point. His hypothesis is the lifestyles affect elderly transportation modes in significant ways. In order to prove his hypothesis, he selects Los Angeles as the setting for the study presented in the book, and describes certain elderly subpopulation groups in that city and measures their mobility on a given day. If one likes statistical studies, this book will be a positiveexperience for them. Theauthor goes into great detail describing the methodologies used in arriving at his conclusions. While one may not care for all of the statistical data presented, the results are provocative and relevant to anyone who works with an elderly population. Some of his more salient points are that elderly transportation needs today are not necessarily going to be the same in the year 2000, and future elderly persons most likely will be better educated, of a high socioeconomic status, and be licensed to drive automobiles. This is not true of a majority of the current elderly population. Financial security was an important variable in the heterogenity of the population studied. The author found that the most financially secure group was the most mobile. Geographical location was also a factor in travel patterns established by the elderly. Central city residents used different methods of transport than did suburban elderly. This factor is important to planners who are developing different modalities of transport for the elderly.
Nurses interacting with the elderly in communities would benefit from the conclusions of this study. The ability to drive, the availability of an automobile, and the accessibility of public transport are factors that can facilitate and limit the activity of those in retirement.
One of the striking observations in the book, not unknown to nurses working in the community is the fact that the range of currently available services does not meet the diverse transportation needs among a heterogeneous elderly population. Transporting elderly to health or social services that they need is often a time-consuming frustrating task. The author suggests that elderly in the future will move to the suburbs and that transportation services for the elderly individual living alone will benefit other age cohorts living under the same circumstances. Programs and policies that are age specific will be less effective in the future.
Much detailed statistical data is presented in this book. Although specific to a location in California, many results noted can be applied to other areas of the country. The book is recommended for all planners working in the aging field. For those gerontological nurses employed in agencies that deliver health and social services, the book would be beneficial. For those gerontological nurses working in staff positions, much information presented in the book would be useful to them and their elderly clients; however, caution should be given about the detailed statistical data presented in the book.
Joan Quirin, RN, MS