Seniors and Those with Special Mobility Needs, Plan Ahead — Winter is on the Way!
With winter quickly approaching and the cold weather drawing near isolation and loss of independence is a reality for too many senior citizens and those living with special mobility needs in Ottawa.
With this in mind it is important to start planning a safe and reliable mode of transportation to attend medical appointments, social outings and complete errands. Knowing what methods of transportation are available to suit each individual’s specific needs, particularly, for the loved ones and caregivers of people suffering from any form of Alzheimer’s or dementia, early preparation cannot be stressed enough. So what are your options?
One method of transportation offered by the City is Para Transpo, which unfortunately due to strained resources, as a result of the rapidly aging demographic they cannot give you an exact time that they will arrive to pick you up. This can cause a number of problems when it comes to attending medical appointments, such as, not making it on time and missing the appointment. Another consideration to take into account when relying on Para Traspo, especially for those that suffer from dementia or need physical assistance while out, it is a door-to-door service. You or your loved one will be left alone upon arrival at the specified destination.
Another method of transportation offered by the City of Ottawa is the OC Transpo. Although convenient for many, this option can pose numerous problems for people with special mobility needs; for example, commuting to and from the nearest bus stop. This commute, especially in the winter months, is challenging to say the least. Some of the obstacles to consider when choosing to use the OC Transpo are: icy stairs, snow banks, no shelters at the bus stop, snow and ice on the sidewalks, and lastly, busses (due to weather conditions) can often run behind schedule, again, posing problems for those that have to get to scheduled medical appointments; and like the Para Transpo option you or your loved one will be left alone upon arrival at your desired bus stop.
There are few options available outside the two listed above except for your traditional door-to-door taxi cabs and relying on family and friends. However, there is one organization in particular called Wheels for the Wise. This organization specializes in providing safe and reliable chauffeured accompaniment for seniors and those with special mobility needs to and from their weekly responsibilities, appointments and errands. The Chauffeur-Companions at Wheels for the Wise are: retired professionals, offer clients physical and emotional assistance for the entire duration of the outing, CPR, First-Aid and AED certified, have been cleared by an Ottawa Police records check for working with vulnerable individuals, and hold a clean drivers abstract issued by the Ministry of Transportation
The service that Wheels for the Wise offers is much more than just about getting transportation. It’s about making a friend, preventing isolation, prolonging independence and getting people with special mobility needs where they have to go. The service welcomes and can accommodate people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia to the extent of offering these clients’ power of attorney the option of having an audio recording of their loved ones medical appointments so they will know exactly what the doctor said if they could not be there due to prior obligations.
To highlight the organizations commitment to improving the transportation options for seniors and people with special mobility needs in Ottawa, Jana Mitchell, Owner and CEO of Wheels for the Wise, is one of the service providers that has been invited to participate in the round table discussions being held by the Council on Aging on November 23, 2011. These Age Friendly Focus Groups have been coordinated as a continuation of the recent Seniors Summit held October 3, 2011 at City Hall. The information and recommendations gathered during these round table discussions will be used toward an older adult plan to go before Council next year.
The major issue that Ms. Mitchell’s recommendations will address is the cost of insurance for small businesses to operate, particularly, commercial auto insurance. “The only reason that we have to charge a minimum of $45 per hour is because of our outrageous auto insurance rates”, said Ms. Mitchell.
Taking into consideration the time it will take to implement any such recommendations, Wheels for the Wise has launched a new initiative, a donation and sponsorship program that allows business and individuals to sponsor an individual living with special mobility needs who lack sufficient income to access their services. Ms. Mitchell states, “The stories we hear on a daily basis are heartbreaking and we have to do our part to prevent isolation and prolong independence for as many people as we can.” Wheels for the Wise, allocates all donated funds based on a waiting list of recipients who have been screened though an application process to confirm their financial need and eligibility.
For more information about their services or to find out how you or your organization can support their new initiative, in providing mobility and a friend to someone truly in need, call 613.709.WISE (9473) or visit www.wheelsforthewise.com.