For decades — ever since Westport became a car-dependent suburb — older citizens have faced an intractable problem: What to do when driving gets tough.
Poor vision, slowing reflexes, bad weather — all make seniors hesitant to drive. But automobiles are crucial to local life. If you can’t get around, you can’t really live here.
Soon, that will change.
CoastalCT Senior Transportation, Inc. is gearing up to provide transportation in private cars in Westport, Wilton, Weston, Easton, Fairfield and Norwalk. Trained volunteers will help older adults remain independent by driving them to appointments, shopping, even out for lunch.
There are no restrictions on the purpose of a ride — and help is available to carry packages, fold walkers, even open doors.
The service — available to anyone over 60, and visually impaired adults — operates 24/7.
The program — part of a national model — operates through pre-paid accounts for individuals or families. For over a year, Leslie Wolf and a small group of volunteers has worked to bring the service to this area.
“Driving ranks as the number one issue for older adults,” Leslie says. “Everyone wants to remain active without relying on relatives and friends.”
Independent Transportation America — the umbrella organization — was founded by Katherine Freund. The Wall Street Journal called her “1 of the 12 people who are changing your retirement.”
In 1988, Freund’s 3-year-old son was struck by a car driven by an 84-year- old. She vowed to identify an alternative to driving that older people would find attractive, and that would approximate what they are giving up. The volunteer-driven transportation system has expanded to 14 sites in 11 states. ITNCoastalCT is the 15th affiliate.
More news about funding will be available soon. Rides will be offered starting in June, with a special celebration planned for September.
In the meantime, get ready to enjoy Westport’s newest ride.
(For more information, call Leslie Wolf: 203-856-3737).