Senior mobility, our unfinished task

Senior mobility, our unfinished task - Sociedad

Technology has the potential to revolutionize access to medical care, but there are gaps that robots, smart phone diagnostics and self-monitoring clinics can not cover.

The natural ageing process is accompanied by physiological changes that can have important consequences in mobility. As a consequence, older people tend to make fewer trips than other adults and can change their way of moving. With the current generation of older adults being more active than previous generations, public transportation will play a crucial role in maintaining their active lifestyle, even when they can not drive.

Public transport is the solution?

For public transport to be an attractive alternative for the elderly, all elements of the chain must be considered. Some of the most common problems with this option, however, are: bus accessibility, bus stops, availability of information, ease of orientation, availability of bathrooms, etc. A recent European survey showed that regular users are not only concerned about conditions on board the bus, but also about the ease of the entire trip (from planning to completion).

In particular, they are sensitive to the quality of service, including personal security, reliability, frequency of service, continuity of service, comfort, cleanliness, customer service, information in real time and affordability of the service rate.

The design of the bus itself can also be an important factor in its accessibility for older adults who ideally need to have a seat available and be able to access it. The attributes of an ideal bus for seniors include: stepless entrances, handrails, priority seating facilities (at the front), real-time audible information, wheelchair space, etc.

"Modern" alternatives

Uber, with its Uber Health for example, is looking for solutions with a new service aimed at helping patients to come and go from a medical professional when they need it. The objective of Health is to make a dent in the number of medical appointments that are lost, for the moment in the United States.

Uber Health can be used by health care providers to organize and manage transportation for their patients. This means booking trips for both patients and staff up to 30 days in advance and the ability to schedule several trips at a time, which could be useful when organizing follow-up appointments.

The useful thing here is that because the provider handles all reservations, even patients without smartphones can use the service. In those cases, the details of the trip would be confirmed with the user through a simple text message or a phone call to a landline or mobile phone.

Uber says that 100 health service providers in the US, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers and care facilities for the elderly, have already been using a beta version of Uber Health, and now the technology is ready for a wider deployment.

One of the great challenges facing both industry and consumers is, as we say, mobility. It is not surprising, therefore, that another long-awaited revolution is the development of cars without a driver that can make life easier for elderly or disabled people. Fully automatic cars have the potential to drastically improve road safety, reduce delays in transport and increase the mobility of thousands of people who currently have difficulty moving.

In a broader sense, they will also benefit humanity as a whole by eliminating much of the pollution that currently pollutes our air and contributes to climate change. Daring, innovation, trying and making mistakes and trying to start up new ideas is vital in this new technological world in which the fully autonomous car is expected to be available within 15 years.

Although there are some obstacles to overcome before these futuristic solutions become a real alternative, we can expect them to arrive before too much time passes.