Spatial mobility patterns of the aged in Chatsworth.
The spatial mobility of the aged has, until recently, been a neglected area of study. Studies by gerontologists focused on housing, health and social services that influenced the quality of life of elderly and ignored spatial mobility. Mobility is an important variable for the aged, to take advantage of the wide variety of shopping, social, cultural and recreational services provided within residential environments. Moreover, for any interaction to take place outside the home, the aged must utilize public transport, motor vehicles or walk. Apartheid policies with its associated racial discrimination had a major impact on the lives of the aged, especially in black communities. Presently, there is a lack of understanding of the problems of the aged in disadvantaged communities because previous research was conducted mainly in white communities. In the light of the above, the aim of this study was to determine the spatial mobility patterns of the aged in Chatsworth, Durban, and to identify difficulties encountered when engaging in day to day activities. It is based on the rationale that mobility is a good measure for assessing the quality of life of the aged and determines the mobility patterns of the elderly in terms of time, cost and distance of travel. This study also identifies factors impeding mobility and makes recommendations to improve the spatial mobility of the aged. The study revealed that the aged in Chatsworth are both mobile and active. It was evident, however, that the aged experienced mobility problems that limited their access to essential services and facilities, because of inefficient transport, low income, lack of facilities and disabilities associated with the ageing process. The underlying feeling of the majority of the respondents was that the transport service in the area should be improved and the state pensions that they received should be increased in order to enhance their mobility and quality of life. Planners and policy makers must consider the concerns of the aged and respond to their needs so that they can continue to have active and independent lives in the community. The planning process can assist in breaking down barriers that hinder the mobility of the aged, and in so doing give the elderly improved opportunities to enjoy the same quality of life as the rest of society. Assistance with mobility and access to services and facilities will not only increase the range of opportunities for the elderly, but in the long term, reduce the amount of institutional care spent on them. Future generations of elderly people will have higher aspirations, expectations, be better educated and prepared for retirement. Present services and facilities are inadequate to cater for the new generation of elderly people and must be upgraded to cope with, and prevent, similar problems recurring in the future.