'Driving' Solutions for Nashville’s Aging Adults (The Tennessean, Opinion)

When its time to give up the keys, senior citizens need to keep moving. Senior Ride Nashville could be the solution.

Ed Cole is a board member of the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee and the chair of the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition.

How do you plan to get around Nashville once driving yourself is no longer an option? As an older adult, I see firsthand that our city’s growing aging population faces a challenge of what to do when driving becomes difficult or impossible.

Nashville and Middle Tennessee are built around the car as the primary means of mobility. While this is beginning to change, there is rapidly growing population of older adults who will find great value in creative ways to replace "self as driver" while still enjoying the mobility provided by the car.

According to research, in just four more years, 22 percent of all Tennesseans will be age 65 or older.  Among senior adults, the fastest growing age group are those 85 years old and older. For the majority of older adults, all of the benefits of driving are still important even when the ability to drive goes away or significantly diminishes. Getting to the doctor, shopping for groceries, meeting for lunch with friends and visiting a barber or stylist are parts of healthy living.

As an active board member of the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee and chair of the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition, I know Nashville’s transportation issues firsthand. How can we provide another way to let the car still be a key element in getting around while recognizing more and more of us in the years ahead do not want to be – and perhaps at some point should not be – the driver?

When its time to give up the keys, we need a user friendly service to keep us moving – a convenient, affordable volunteer program that is organized, safe and dependable, and helps us maintain our quality of life and connection to the community.

From the Coalition’s research and discussions over the past 18 months emerged Senior Ride Nashville, a new volunteer-based ride service for older adults that is slated to begin limited service in Nashville in mid-2017.

The service brings together two of Nashville's greatest strengths: a growing and vibrant population of aging adults and a tradition of volunteerism and neighbors helping neighbors.  Everyone wins: the older adult maintains the vitality that mobility each day can provide and the volunteer is a catalyst to meaningful change. Now, all we need is a group of worthy and dedicated volunteers to help this Council on Aging initiative shift into high gear.

The service is not intended to replace current mobility options, but supplement them. For instance, if a volunteer-provided service from door to door is needed, Senior Ride Nashville will provide the trip.  If other services are more appropriate, such as AccessRide, Uber, Lyft, traditional taxi, transit, bus, van limo etc., Senior Ride Nashville will make the referral in the easiest way possible.

The primary goal of Senior Ride Nashville is to harness the energy, vitality and volunteer spirit of our community to meet the growing mobility needs of our older adult neighbors. Senior Ride Nashville taps into technology to match the need for a trip with the willingness of a volunteer. It offers a way to provide not only a ride, but caring assistance and friendly conversation.

These are the kinds of transportation solutions that will continue to keep Nashville’s aging population connected and on the road to aging well.

To stay informed on the latest news about Senior Ride Nashville, volunteer or sign-up for updates here: seniorridenashville.org

State of Aging in TN: Shorts

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability's (TCAD) Aging Commission Liaison, Anna Lea Cothron, interviews Shelley Matthews about MyRide TN and the current and future transportation needs of older Tennesseans.  Matthews is the Director of the Southwest Tennessee Development District’s Area Agency on Aging and Disability (SWAAAD). She attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia as a history major and was a National Debate Tournament champion in 1995. Upon return from college, she worked for the Tennessee Disability Coalition in Nashville (providing information and assistance services for consumers calling the Coalition), the Tennessee Brain Injury Association, the Autism Society of Middle Tennessee, and the Middle Tennessee Center for Independent Living.  


The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability's (TCAD) Aging Commission Liaison, Anna Lea Cothron, interviews Ed Cole about the current and future transportation needs of older Tennesseans.  Following his retirement from a career in local and state government, as well as the non-profit community, Ed Cole is now active in several Tennessee community initiatives. He currently leads the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition of the Greater Nashville Council on Aging, for which he serves on the board. He serves as the Governor’s Appointee for Nashville-Davidson County on the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and is the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County representative on the Cheatham County Railroad Authority (CCRA). Additionally, he is a member of the Downtown Nashville Rotary Club and other professional organizations, has served in leadership roles for numerous non-profit organizations, and is currently on the board of the Greater Nashville Council on Aging.

Brumfield tapped as first executive director of ​​​​​​​Senior Ride Nashville

Call center and assisted ride service to launch mid-2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – March 14, 2017 – Carrie Brumfield has been hired as the first executive director of Senior Ride Nashville, a new transportation call center and volunteer ride service for older adults.

The creation of Senior Ride Nashville is the result of work begun in May 2015, when the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee (COA) convened a Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition to address the growing need for affordable, available, assisted

transportation for seniors.

"We are thrilled to have Carrie on board to lead Senior Ride Nashville,” said Grace Smith, executive director, COA. “Her experience developing community programs in Middle Tennessee make her well-suited to launch this new service, which has been a true collaborative effort.”

Senior Ride Nashville is set to launch its call center and assisted ride service in mid-2017.

“Carrie’s sincere passion for improving mobility for older adults, along with her experience in transit and volunteer programs, made her a clear choice to launch Senior Ride Nashville,” said Ed Cole, COA board member and chair of the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition.

Brumfield is a Nashville native with more than a decade of experience leading and developing community programs in Middle Tennessee. She formerly served as director of programs at the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee where she worked with regional leaders to build support for funding a regional transit system in Middle Tennessee and led the development of the Transit Citizen Leadership Academies. Prior to that, she served within the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Action Team, where she provided management of the Chamber’s local and state legislative activity, programs and initiatives. She later returned to the Chamber and most recently served as their manager of business growth initiatives, where she led continued development and deployment of the Small Business Administration-funded ScaleUp Nashville.

Brumfield began her career as volunteer and client services specialist for The American Red Cross, training and coordinating volunteers to respond to local disasters and emergency situations.

“I am honored to accept this leadership position with Senior Ride Nashville and look forward to working with the Council on Aging and the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition as we launch this much-needed service,” said Brumfield. “I believe that our future success as a city depends on prosperity for all residents of Davidson County; promoting lifelong mobility and social connections for our older citizens is key for a better quality of life.”

When it launches mid-2017, Senior Ride Nashville will offer information and referral services to match seniors and caregivers with the most appropriate transportation options, whether it's ride share, public transit, paratransit or SRN's assisted ride service. The volunteer ride program will launch in a limited area of Davidson County then gradually expand countywide.