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Helping KY Seniors Get Around Town Safely


Monday, August 10, 2015   

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Research confirms what many folks already know – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says per mile traveled, fatal crashes increase noticeably at age 70 and are highest among drivers 85 and up.

When Katherine Freund's now-adult son was three, he was struck by a vehicle driven by an 84-year-old driver. After not talking about the traumatic experience for nearly two decades, Freund came full circle – now using it to shed light on safety and mobility issues facing seniors.

In her words, "telling stories helps solve problems," so she's in Kentucky today, to hear what others have to say.

"This issue touches millions of people and there are millions of stories out there,” she says. “And, if we're really going to solve this problem, it has to be about everybody's stories, not just me, not just my son."

Freund's stop in Lexington comes near the end of her Storybook Tour, a two- month, 12,000-mile road trip across the country.

Freund says she's heard from seniors who have no way to get around, from those who have found solutions, and from too many people whom she describes as terribly hurt by the problem.

By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.

Freund tells groups if more people speak up, it will be a major step toward solving the problem of how the seniors stay mobile, safely.

"The other piece of solving the problem, I think, is people noticing that older people can't get around, and getting in their cars and offering rides,” she says. “I think the answer to this national transportation problem is parked in driveways, from coast to coast."

Freund founded the Independent Transportation Network (ITN) 20 years ago in Portland, Maine. The nonprofit organization, which provides rides to seniors, has expanded to 27 communities around the country, including Lexington. The riders pay a membership fee.

Susan Harper says her 89-year-old mother, Dorothy Friend, quit driving four years ago for safety reasons and now uses the ITN ride service in Lexington to go to her hairdresser, exercise classes and the doctor.

"It is a part of a solution that works,” she states. “It's kept her having some independence, because she can call and make her rides for her appointments where she needs to go, and not depending on family members. "

Harper says talking with the drivers is also another good social outlet for her mom.

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