Aging population highlights transportation needs

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Minnesota's population is aging, fast. By 2030, 1 in 4 Minnesotans will be 65-years old and older. By 2050, the number of Minnesotans age 85 and older will nearly triple to 250,000. Experts say this massive demographic change will have tremendous implications for everyone in the state.

Here's a visual of the aging forecast, from Minnesota State Demographic Center and U.S. Census Bureau data:

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Because people live an average of 7 to 10 years beyond their ability to drive safely, AARP reports, seniors across the country will need new ways to get around.

“We are running to catch up,” says Kathryn Lawler, director of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging, “For 60 years, we’ve built for the car,” she tells the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  “We have to imagine a different way of living,” she says.

Surveys show an overwhelming number of seniors prefer to age at home. But AARP reports 60 percent of seniors lack access to public transportation within a 10-minute walk from their homes. Fifty-three percent do not even have a sidewalk outside their home.

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Planners say Minnesota needs to make communities more senior-friendly, and create more transportation options for people who no longer drive.

Managing My transportation as I get older

– MPR News reports  on 5 new ways communities are preparing for an aging population.

– Minnesota is not alone in planning for an aging population. Check out the top ten cities for successful aging.

– Seven tips for older drivers from Mayo Clinic 
1. Stay physically active
2. Schedule regular vision and hearing tests
3. Manage any chronic conditions
4. Understand your limitations
5. Drive under optimal conditions
6. Plan ahead
7. Update your driving skills

– AARP offers a safe driving course:

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