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Life on the road hard for Delta seniors

It’s a struggle for many seniors to get around North Delta. Each trip is hard in a different way. Lillian…

By Tiffany Kwong , in Blogs , on November 21, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Lillian Shakespeare
Lillian Shakespeare uses a walker and takes a taxi to get around because she can’t get on the bus. (Photo: Tiffany Kwong)

It’s a struggle for many seniors to get around North Delta. Each trip is hard in a different way.

Lillian Shakespeare, 86, takes the taxi to get to Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre ever since she fell and broke her ankle last year. She pays $6 each way for the three-minute trip to and from the centre, a cost that mounts up.

“I don’t use transit because there’s no strength in my ankle – I can’t get on and use buses,” said Shakespeare.

June Walker also goes to Kennedy but can manage, just barely, to take the bus. She walks to the local stop and climbs on to the 319 that travels along Scott Road.

June Walker
June Walker is one among many seniors who come to the Kennedy centre to have a hot meal before going to their activity. (Photo: Tiffany Kwong)

Walker, 67, can walk just fine but she is recovering from a serious disease. The four-block trek to Kennedy centre is tiring for her. But she doesn’t qualify for HandyDART, a service that requires a doctor’s verification.

Some members at Kennedy do qualify and use the HandyDART, but it presents its own challenges. The trips must be booked in advance and must involve designated drop-offs.

“[Seniors] have long waits before they can get [HandyDART] to come here,” said Margaret Nielsen, director-at-large at Kennedy centre. “Sometimes a half or an hour, but they have to be patient and wait … and it’s kind of frustrating for them, not being able to leave.”

Many seniors forego their driver’s licences as they age and others stop driving because of poor health. But that often leaves them stranded or dependent on others.

Deltassist does run a volunteer drivers program for seniors, but that is often restricted to medical appointments not door-to-door service. In the last year, Deltassist had 19 volunteer drivers who made a total of 108 trips.

“Transportation is one of the biggest problems here [in North Delta] … particularly for people that have any disability,” said Nielsen. “Getting a shuttle bus would be a vast improvement. It has to be a route that is going to give the most opportunity for people, particularly seniors.”