It’s January, the mid-winter, the harshest of seasons. This is the time of year when the wind blows the most raw, when snow covers the landscape and ice coats the windshield. It can be a hard time to be outside at all, and an especially hard time for traveling, from walking to driving to flying. Even just opening the front door can be a task some days.
And this winter in particular has been a brutal one: Polar temperatures descending from Canada, followed by a “bomb cyclone” that hit the Atlantic Coast with record cold and snow and ice as far south as Florida. Then rain and warm weather made a quick stop before the next round of sub-freezing temperatures. These are the makings of transportation nightmares, where planes are grounded and cars sit encased in ice.
This is when anything can go wrong, when sheets of ice and a glaze of snow lines every flat surface. Anyone could slip and fall, no matter their age. But where for a younger person a fall hurts only their pride, for older Americans a fall can be catastrophic. The sidewalks are slick, the steps are snow-laden, the plow went by an hour ago and still you have somewhere you need to be. This can make the decision to leave home especially tough.
This is a reality for many older people. They know all too well that the impacts of age hit particularly hard in winter. As we age our vision weakens, our muscles lose strength, and we grow less steady on our feet. These are the normal changes, the result of accumulated years spent on Earth, and they can navigating transportation precarious in the best of weather, much less winter. Throw in snow blocking the front door, a stoop still in need of shoveling and an icy sidewalk and it’s easy to understand why some older people might just consider staying home after December.
But isolation carries its own health risks, and for older people becoming homebound can be almost as dangerous as a fall. It’s important to maintain the means to engage in social interactions and enjoy a life outside the home. Everyone needs their independence. But how do you thread the needle between the risks of winter stumbles and those of staying home?
This is where the ITN promise of arm-through-arm, door-through-door service really counts. We do the driving, but that’s not all we do. Every ride begins and ends at a doorway. Our job isn’t finished until our rider is safely indoors, over the threshold, beyond the sand, salt and snow. It may be windy and rainy, freezing and slick, but that walk from the house to the car or from the car to the house is not something our riders are ever left to negotiate alone. There’s no reason to get caught deciding between risking a slip or staying home. Decide instead to become part of ITN: Arm-through-arm, door-through-door every time, even in the harshest of seasons.