Caregiving and Travel Patterns

Caregiving and Travel Patterns

This study explores the impact of caregiving for older adults on mobility and travel patterns. Specifically, the focus is on how caregivers manage trips on behalf of another who receives care. Caregiving is becoming increasingly common as the population ages, and the number of people providing care for loved ones is expected to grow in the future. A 2004 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimated that there were nearly 44.4 million people who provided unpaid care for another adult (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP 2004). Caregiving for others often requires that caregivers make adjustments in their lives, fitting caring for their loves ones – and trips on behalf of their loves ones – around already busy schedules.

Caregivers are also more likely to be women than men. For many older couples where the husband had long been the primary driver, caregiving roles can also mean a change in driving roles and in travel patterns. In spite of the growth in caregiving, and the increases expected in the future, we know relatively little about the impact of caregiving on travel behavior. This project will focus on the trips that caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias make on behalf of those for whom they provide care, and how caregivers adjust their travel patterns to accommodate the additional needs they must satisfy. The questions in this study include the nature of the relationship between caregivers and those who receive care, the types of trips caregivers make for their loved ones, and how caregivers accommodate these trips – either by trip chaining, making additional trips, foregoing the trip (or having someone else make the trip), or having the goods or services brought in-home where possible. This work will highlight some of the changes in travel behavior we might expect as more people take on caregiving roles in their lives. The implications of the research may result in greater recognition of the impact of caregiving on travel behaviors, and in changes in transportation practice or services to improve the mobility of people who provide care for others.

 

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