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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Detroit jumping on board the senior citizen express

Independence and the ability to age at home are the top two concerns for many in the rapidly expanding senior citizen demographic, and mobility is an important aspect of seniors maintaining their freedom. In response to the aging population, Ford Motor Company has developed a number of innovations for its vehicles to make them more “senior friendly.”

“As you get older, the possible loss of that driving capability is equated with the removal of freedom, so what we can do to try to help older people continue to drive is important to them, because it really equates to a loss of freedom if they can’t do that,” says Gary Strumulo, Manager of Vehicle Design and Infotronics at Ford.

The innovations Ford has incorporated into some of its vehicles include specially contoured seats that prevent blood buildup when seated, user-friendly designs to help those who have joint stiffness or lack a full range of motion get in and out of cars easier, and easy fuel filters that let some push the gas nozzle directly into the device, making it easier on people with arthritic fingers.

In addition to this, Strumulo says Ford is also looking to address chronic illnesses that passengers may have, like diabetes, asthma, or allergies, by incorporating technology into their vehicles with a three pronged approach. This includes using Ford’s in-car connectivity system SYNC to connect to mobile health services that are on the web, and connect to devices brought into the vehicle (like a continuous glucose monitor) which communicates through bluetooth, and also to leverage the number of Smart Apps on smart phones.

Ford wants to adjust the purpose of SYNC to include health and wellness in addition to infotainment, says Strumulo, and the car company is looking beyond basic car safety features to reflect the aging population.

Another plan to make vehicles more “senior friendly” is to make font sizes on vehicle controls and interfaces bolder and wider. Ford cars arriving in dealerships next year will feature font sizes that have been increased 40%, starting with the Ford Edge and Explorer before spreading to other models.

By the year 2030, U.S. Census data shows about 20% of the American population will belong to the elderly demographic, and the number of American 50-year-olds will outnumber those under 20.

A recent Transportation for America study showed a huge “senior mobility crisis” threatening the Baby Boomer generation, as transportation options for many senior citizens are limited to driving. With an estimated 56% of the 65 and older crowd living in suburban areas where driving is the main method of transportation, it’s important to cater to this population by providing vehicle features that will help them to remain mobile longer, and therefore maintain their independence.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea that something like this was being worked on, but it is about time if you ask me! Half the reason why my Grandparents don't drive anymore is because the car is just too uncomfortable for them. They have a hard time getting in and out, and the seats are just awful. I'm glad to hear that this is going to change.

    I also work with senior citizens ever day, helping them cover the out of pocket gaps brought on by government Medicare. Many of my clients struggle with the same thing. I will have to pass this information along to them.

    If you ever get the opportunity, feel free to check out our new website. It should answer any questions that you may have. We'd also appreciate any type of feedback! Thanks again for sharing. You have an excellent blog. Keep up the good work!


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