Dr. Kenzie Mintus’ work titled “Staying Connected: Alternative Transportation Use, Neighborhoods, and Social Participation among Older Americans” was recently published in the journal The Gerontologist. This research will be included in a special issue on Age-Friendly Environments.
Background and Objectives
A wealth of empirical evidence documents improved health among older adults who participate in social activities. Alternative transportation can serve as a bridge linking older adults to social activities and improving person–environment fit.
Research Design and Methods
Using Waves 1–8 of the National Health and Aging Trends Study, this research examines whether alternative transportation use is associated with participation in diverse social activities among a sample of Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 or older. Additionally, this research explores whether the effect of transportation use varies across neighborhood environments. We analyzed individual trajectories of participation in social activities by estimating 2-level growth curve models.
The use of public transportation, paratransit, getting a ride, or walking/using wheelchair/scooter to get places was associated with participating in more types of social activities. Respondents who used alternative transportation had less steep declines in participation. The effect of getting rides and using paratransit services was more pronounced among respondents living in disordered neighborhoods.
Discussion and Implications
This research underscores the importance of alternative transportation use and the neighborhood context for participation among older adults. Age-friendly initiatives aimed at fostering greater community engagement should think broadly about the role of multiple forms of transportation.
Kenzie Mintus is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI