Getting to and from the appointments can be a challenge for older adults who can no longer drive, and it can be especially hard for those that live in rural areas with little public transportation. But several groups are coming together to find solutions to keep people in their homes while getting them to places they need to go.
Getting to Sanford Hospital for a first-hand look at its medical facility wasn't a problem for this group. However, their talks are centered on those who can't.
"We have decided that transportation is an issue we need to study because it cuts across several different aspects for older Americans," Dennis Eisnach said.
Seven members of AARP's National Policy Council are meeting with medical providers, like Sanford Health, and transportation officials to determine if more policies need to be put in place to help serve older adults, especially those living in rural areas.
"The distances involved make transportation difficult," Bruce Lindholm said.
South Dakota's spread out rural towns can mean people are forced to move out of their homes. But AARP is looking for more solutions to stop that. What they're learning from these meetings is coordination is key.
"There are a lot different programs at the federal and state level that provide funding for transportation and there really isn't the kind of coordination that probably needs to happen for more efficient use of the resources that are available," Eisnach said.
"It’s a good reminder for us in terms of coordination and how we move people from rural parts of South Dakota to Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen," Lindholm said.
They'll continue to study options on how to create effective coordination to get people to where they need to go.
According to AARP, a 2010 study showed one-third of the population in South Dakota was age 50 and older, and more than half of them live in rural areas.