Safe Transportation Rearch and Education Center Co-Director David Ragland, PhD, MPH, Lecturer and Policy Researcher Glenn Schor, PhD, MPH, and Editor Grace Felschundneff recently published The Impact of COVID-19 on the Mobility Needs of an Aging Population in Contra Costa County.
Abstract: In 2018, SafeTREC conducted a survey on transportation mobility issues among older adults in California. A follow-up survey planned for 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic changed life for all residents, was redesigned to assess mobility needs and changes during the Shelter-in-Place order and focused on COVID-19 impacts. Results indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Shelter-in-Place order have had a major impact on senior mobility. Communications for many were restricted to phone, email, texts, social media and video chats. Among those with a medical problem, just over 60% called a doctor or nurse line or went to a doctor’s office, while 11.2% went to an emergency room, and 8.6% did nothing. A total of 8% of respondents said they had run out of food or other important items during the Shelter-in-Place order. Rates of exercise outside the home dropped 20% between January and June 2020, and while over 60% sought outside entertainment in January 2020, by June 2020, nearly 70% accessed their entertainment online at home. Almost 80% of working respondents feared spreading or contracting COVID-19 because of their work or related transportation. Almost 20% felt a lack of companionship or closeness sometimes or often. Over 30% were worried about their current or long-term finances. A total of 84.5% strongly agreed or agreed that the Shelter-in-Place order was necessary. None of the respondents to the follow-up survey were diagnosed with COVID-19, and 88.2% were not concerned about risk of exposure from any member of their household.