Living alone is not always a choice. It happens - someone passes on or must move into a care center, and of course, there are the 'split-ups'.
There are pros and cons to living alone. A serious point on the negative side is how easy it is to fall into a lethargic space triggering loneliness and isolation which can have profound consequences for health and wellbeing. Being without the ways and means to get around greatly aggravates the situation.
The issue of transportation is a huge factor in how well people living alone deal with everything - going to work, getting to appointments, participation in social functions, or even joining in social or health-oriented interactions like exercising. Doing activities in a safe place and with others is hugely important. If you can't get there on your own, how will you join in?
Taxi rides can get prohibitive in cost unless you only plan for necessary trips - and there's not much fun or interaction in that. Handivan service isn't much better; you're at the mercy of set time schedules which are anything but handy. Moreover, rider rules mean that some people don't qualify.
Rural Alberta has little in the way of regular bus service now that the used-to-be Greyhound bus no longer travels most highways nor stops when hailed for a ride. Driving friends can get fed-up with being hounded for rides, mostly because they might have a lot to do themselves.
Some people report that asking for rides is
demeaning and stressful, much like begging.
Short trips are one thing. Try soliciting someone to take you on those often-longer trips to medical appointments in bigger centers. Not only does it take more fuel, but it takes more time, too! Who, today can give that time? Often those needing rides don't have the money to pay for such trips which adds to the difficulty in finding someone willing and financially able to transport them. Unfortunately, medical appointments are often missed because people can't get to them.
Most driver-enabled persons have little or no idea what non-drivers (young or old) go through, especially when they don't have any transportation choices. To be a single parent with dependent children; to be senior or disabled and without transportation is a growing problem as the population ages in rural Alberta. Add to that, the issue of slowed physical movement that can add to 'wait' times when walkers and wheelchairs need carting and lifting. Four-footed canes aren't always easy to maneuver, and purchases need to be dealt with.
What's a driverless, carless person in rural Alberta to do? There seems to be no easy solution. A good start is in at least having public transport available for all. It's good news to see that some progress on this matter appears to be on the way.
Lori Feldberg lives alone in Wetaskiwin. She is an active writer with numerous
articles and books to her credit. This issue is dedicated to her late husband,
Jim Feldberg, who passed away recently after a long and debilitating illness.
Rural Transportation News. Alberta 2018 is produced by ALL of Alberta (Association for Life-wide Living of Alberta). Contributors and people in Rural Transportation Team Alberta are committed to changes that contribute to the quality of life for everyone in rural Alberta. We value your feedback and ideas.
or by calling 780/672-9315.
Appreciation is extended to contributors, organizations and other stakeholders for their help in moving the Alberta Rural Transportation efforts along, and to the Alberta Weekly Newspaper's Association for helping to circulate this column.
Cathie Bartlett is Editor for Rural Transporation News. Alberta 2018. She is a former journalist, and now an active member of the
Battle River Writing Centre.