Social Work Faculty and Sanders Brown Collaborate on Aging Research
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 25, 2013) — As the population ages, issues such as care, quality of life, and mobility often arise. Moon Choi, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work and colleagues from the Sanders Brown Center on Aging are collaborating on a study that looks at social determinants of mobility limitations and the loss of driving in old age.
Choi's interest in the impact of loss of driving privileges in the elderly stemmed from her own experience when she moved from her home in Seoul, Korea, to Cleveland, Ohio, in 2005 to go to school. The biggest cultural shock for Choi was her inability to get around without a car.
"I grew up in a metropolitan city where people mainly rely on public transportation, but when I moved to Cleveland, it was very hard to get around without a car," Choi said. "I lived next to the campus and a grocery, so I thought a car was unnecessary but I was wrong. I was imprisoned in my tiny studio apartment and felt like I was disabled. I had to ask friends for a ride when I wanted to go somewhere. As a person who highly values independence, I felt shamed when I asked for a ride from others. So, unlike my plan of living without a car for the first year of my doctorate program, I bought a car right after my first three months in Cleveland. This intense experience living without a car made me think about what the process of being disabled is like, and the role of independent transportation, impact of life space constriction on the quality of life at old age."
The Department of Health and Human Services says that persons 65 years or older currently represent 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, but that number is expected to grow to 19 percent of the population by 2030 or about 72.1 million older persons. This would suggest that even more people will be dealing with the issue of driving cessation.
"We will, at a certain point of our lives, have to give up car keys," Choi said. "Driving cessation is like retirement or divorce, which affect multi-dimensions of life. Advanced planning mobility and transportation transition are very important to diminish the impact of driving cessation on individuals. When we think about old age, we often focus on financial security, but mobility security is as important as financial security. "
Media Contact: Ann Blackford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-312-3587.