Although some Americans are getting ready to return to a semblance of a normal lifestyle amid relaxed COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, others — particularly non-driving older adults — are still having difficulties getting to the places they need to go. New technological innovations, however, may soon change that.
In a new report from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the nonprofit organization, found that about 3 in 4 older adults in the U.S. trust self-driving and ride-hailing (SDRH) services (75%), feel confident these services can enhance their safety (69%) and agree they can help them achieve tasks outside of the home (72%).
It's little wonder, then, that 75% of respondents say they expect to use such technologies in the future.
Older adults want to maintain quality of life and independence after they decide to stop driving
The NCOA found that many older adults decide to stop driving because of health-related concerns such as declining vision, the use of medications that impair driving or physical or cognitive abilities. Many respondents reported having difficulty carrying out the following tasks as well:
- Doing errands such as shopping alone (20%)
- Walking or climbing stairs (19%)
- Seeing even with glasses (9%)
- Hearing (8%)
- Dressing or bathing (7%)
Of course, non-driving older adults still want to maintain their quality of life by attending doctor's appointments, shopping and taking part in activities that keep them socially connected with others around them. Although 41% of respondents say they rarely feel lonely or isolated, others say they do:
- Sometimes (32%)
- Often or always (17%)
Nearly all of NCOA's survey participants (97%) used some form of transportation — including riding as a passenger with a friend, family member or community member — to get around within the past three months.
But with this inability to do many daily routines and activities by themselves, 25% of all American workers have left their jobs to help their family members with these tasks.
Respondents are interested in what SDRH technologies can do for them
With 75% of American drivers now returning to their pre-pandemic driving habits, new SDRH technologies can help non-driving older adults regain their sense of mobility as well.
For instance, current technologies can take on a portion of the driver's responsibilities on the road, while future innovations can take over the entirety of these tasks. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, self-driving taxis and public transit vehicles can play a similar role, especially for those living in urban or suburban areas.
The NCOA’s findings reveal that, for the most part, non-driving older adults are ready for and looking forward to these new developments.
According to the report:
- 76% of respondents reported they were somewhat or very interested in SDRH if it was an option for them
- 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that SDRH would be a reliable form of transportation
- 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that SDRH would enable them to maintain their independence
- 68% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they would find it easy to get SDRH to do what they wanted it to do
- 64% of respondents agree or strongly agree that learning to use SDRH would be easy for them
Methodology: The National Council on Aging (NCOA) gathered data from 2,477 U.S. residents ages 55 and older, recruiting them using a social media platform advertisement that led to a consent form and Qualtrics survey.