Getting around. Ever determined to move fast, linger little and eschew pondering — maybe we’re slowly turning into a world that feels more like home to seniors.
Advocates warn a safety crisis looms, with roadways designed for rapid and high-volume vehicle movement — but at the expense of pedestrians and bicyclists. When 82-year-old Mavis Coyle toted her groceries across four Los Angeles lanes, she found a police officer waiting with a $114 obstructing-the-flow-of-traffic ticket. And it’s not only senior pedestrians who find mean streets. One in four drivers will be over age 65 by 2025 — which is why some cities have already begun to redesign lanes, intersections and signage for all-around improved safety. Some think the makeovers will also help reduce gasoline usage, and others welcome the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendlier streets as obesity-fighting aids. For seniors like Ms. Coyle, however, smoother, safer, easier-to-navigate streets are just the ticket for getting around with more independence.
Retailers feel the pressure, too. Increasingly, you see carpet that can’t be mistaken for wet, shiny floors, and magnifying glasses suspended from shelves for reading the fine and not-so-fine print. Other senior-attuned changes you can expect to find: shopping carts with built-in seating, softer music and more accessible — not too high, not too low — merchandise. These changes upgrade seniors’ shopping experiences, and the easier-to-take retail environments may prove just as welcoming to us pre-seniors. Seriously: shopping carts with adult-size seats? Hey! Gimme a push.
Getting around across decades and through long-lost relationships, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has turned to the Web to connect stories of Holocaust-surviving children with their 21st century selves and families. The displaced children were photographed by relief agencies at the end of the Second World War, and now in a project called “Remember Me?”, those photos are available for browsing. Seeing the photos, some have identified themselves, and others have found relatives and friends. The painful, beautiful, haunting result is that these seniors have begun to fill in portions of their young lives that were, until now, lost. That’s fulfillment they deserve.