One of the best perks of aging in New York City is that you can find almost anything you need, from supermarkets, hospitals and pharmacies to libraries and parks just a few blocks from your front door.
The city’s density means older New Yorkers remain active pedestrians far longer than those aging in suburban and rural areas, but also comes at a cost: despite being only 13 percent of New York City’s population, individuals 65 and older make up more than one third of all annual pedestrian fatalities.
Read on to learn why seniors are more susceptible to traffic hazards and what you can do to remain safe at any age.
Common Elements of Aging
Everyone faces their own set of physical challenges as they age, but there are common elements of the aging process that put senior pedestrians at increased risk.
- Diminished eyesight and hearing make it harder to predict oncoming traffic and other hazards
- Slower gait or limited mobility can make street crossings slower
- Decrease in height can make it harder for older pedestrians to be seen
What You Can Do To Lower Your Risk
While many of the challenges associated with aging are impossible to completely mitigate, there are steps you can take to lower your risk and remain an active, independent part of your community.
- Remain active – even a few short, low-impact exercise sessions or casual walks a week can go a long way in preserving your long-term mobility, allowing you to stay safe.
- Buddy up – if you need to run some errands, consider calling up a friend or neighbor to see if they want to tag along. Not only is it nice to have some company, but you can work together to spot hazards and assist one another.
- Plan a safe route – Chances are you know your neighborhood like the back of your hand. Before going out, try to plan a path that will allow you to avoid large intersections, corners with missing or damaged curb cuts, visibility-obstructing construction sites and walk signals with short countdown timers.
- Wait for a new light – To give yourself the maximum amount of time to cross the street, wait for a new walk signal before stepping off the curb. This also gives you time to look for turning vehicles or other hazards.
- Stay back from the street – When waiting for a crossing signal, always stand two to three feet back from the corner, as larger commercial vehicles and buses can potentially mount the curb while turning.
- Watch cars and their drivers – Distracted drivers cause a large number of preventable pedestrian collisions every year. Always try to look at an approaching vehicle’s driver to ensure they are paying attention to the road. When in doubt, wait for them to come to a full stop or pass before attempting to cross.
- Use caution in low-visibility situations – Use extra caution when walking in rain, snow, fog, at night or when walking out from behind obstructions like parked cars or scaffolding. Wearing brighter colors, raising your hand, or affixing a tall flag to a shopping cart, wheelchair or other assistive device can also help.
SelectCare is dedicated to helping New Yorkers live happier, healthier lives in the comfort of their homes and hope this information helps give you the confidence to remain actively engaged in your community. If you have concerns about your safety when out and about in your neighborhood, consider calling SelectCare or requesting a free in-home care guide to learn how our team of home caregivers can help.