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Health Topics - Mobility

With our communities getting bigger and more spread out these days it is more important than ever to be able to get around to see friends and relatives and to do the things we want to do.  As we get older, for one reason or another, we often need to rely on others to get around.  This page of the website attempts to give some practical information on how to meet the challenges of transport and mobility as we get older.  

Accessible Accommodation
Advice for Pedestrians
Coping without a Car - Report released
Driving test - free New Zealand Road Code quizzes
Keeping Mobile - Mobility Scooters
Land Transport New Zealand
Medical Fitness to Drive
Medical Tips for Older Travellers

Mobility Parking Permit
Safe Driving Tips
Staying Safe
Total mobility scheme

Volunteer transport schemes

Websites of Interest


Accessible Accommodation
The Ministry of Tourism has information on their website for people with special needs.

ACCESS4ALL is a new accommodation guide designed for anyone who has a little (or a lot of) difficulty getting around, helping them to continue travelling! It is perfect for older people who may use a walking stick, a walking frame, a mobility scooter or wheelchair, or might just be a little frail/shaky. 
The guide details where you can find specially designed accessible units/rooms, as well as things like no steps, suitable bathroom, handy parking, roomy bedroom etc.
ACCESS4ALL only lists motels, apartments & holiday parks that provide purpose built accessible units and easy access standard units/rooms... It's well worth checking out their website or you can download a flier here

They will also organise your online booking needs

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Advice for Pedestrians
Being a pedestrian is nothing new however New Zealand statistics show that pedestrians are killed and injured every year.  We have included a few pointers and items of interest that you may wish to use next time you are out to reduce the risk of injury and increase your safety.

  • BE SEEN at all times - wear bright/light coloured clothing day or night, carry a torch at night time, use reflector tape on your garments at night.
  • Legally you must also use a pedestrian crossing if you are within 20 metres of the crossing.
  • A diamond is painted on the road to warn motorists that a pedestrian crossing is ahead.  These are at least 50 metres before the crossing.  Do not step out if the car is between this diamond and the crossing.  If it is on the other side of the diamond and travelling at the correct speed limit then you should be able to cross safely.  Wait if the car is on your side of the diamond.  
  • Never assume that the driver has seen you and try if possible to make eye contact.
  • Avoid crossing between parked cars or in front of buses.
  • Be alert in car parks.
  • Keep on the footpath.
  • Be aware of cobbled areas - they are dangerous and cause confusion for the pedestrian of any age!  These are not pedestrian crossings and pedestrians must give way to motorists.
  • Plan your outings if possible to avoid the busy times.
  • Ask for assistance if you feel you need it.
  • If using a mobility scooter you need to observe pedestrian rules also.  Try to adjust your speed to a suitable walking speed.

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Coping Without A Car
The report of a study about Coping Without a Car is available from the Office of Senior Citizens.  The study asks “How does lack of private transport affect the lifestyle and quality of life of older people, and how do older people who do not have access to private transport meet their transport needs?”. The report looks at situations of older people living without a car and at the strategies people use to cope. It then suggests some solutions.

How will you get around when you stop driving?

The Office of Senior Citizens has also produced a brochure with ideas on planning for your future transport needs now, so stopping driving isn’t a big problem later. 


Driving tests - Free NZ Road Code Quizzes
Helping older drivers refresh their road code www.drivingtests.co.nz is a free road code education website.
Driving instructors often refer older people to this website to help them refresh their driving theory knowledge. The website has all the official NZTA questions and is completely free.

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Keeping Mobile - How to use your mobility scooter or power chair - safely
Topics covered in the booklet include knowing your legal responsibilities, planning your route, tips for a safe journey, park, tips for riding on the road.  This booklet is produced by Land Transport New Zealand, and updates the original brochure produced by Age Concern Flaxmere.   View a copy on line at Land Transport New Zealand.  Age Concern Whangarei has produced a very useful brochure with useful information on how to purchase a second hand scooter.  North Shore has amended the brochure with local contacts. 

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Land Transport New Zealand
If you would like to contact the Land Transport New Zealand click here.  They have an extensive range of resources and information for older drivers.

The New Zealand Road Code Rules are available on the internet.  These are the road rules section from the official New Zealand Road Code. It can help you understand New Zealand traffic law and become a safe and courteous road user. You'll need to consult the appropriate Official New Zealand Road Code for specialised information relating to cars, motorcycles or heavy vehicles. You can buy a copy from any good book store or driver licensing agency.

New Zealand Transport Agency Factsheets - available online for older drivers

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Medical Fitness to Drive
Occupational Therapists can offer you an Off road and On road Assessment to identify any physical or cognitive difficulties you may be experiencing whwhich could affect your ability to drive.
The role of the Therapist is different to that of a Driving Instructor, the Occupational Therapist is fully trained in how the effects of ill health and specific conditions affect driving and how these may/or may not be remedied. Only Occupational Therapists qualified in this field are able to make recommendations regarding Medical fitness to Drive, this falls out of the scope of practice of the driving Instructor.
A Medical Driving Assessment may be advised by the GP if you have recently suffered ill health, an accident, or your Drivers license is up for renewal.

For more information on Medical Fitness to Drive or to contact a Occupational Therapist you can visit

  • www.driveable.co.nz - they offer an in Office Test – DCAT (DriveABLE Cognitive Assessment Tool) and an On Road test if required – DriveABLE On Road Evaluation Tool (DORE) to test your driving ability. 
  • www.reable.co.nz - they have an informative website and contacts for Ocupational Therapists in the North Island

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Medical Tips for the Older Traveller
Dr Kathy Powell is a Dunedin GP who has recently completed postgraduate training in travel medicine.  She has compiled a number of common sense suggestions for older travellers.

Did you know that around 10% of all New Zealand residents over the age of 75 years (over 27,000 people) travelled overseas in 2001.  Its great to see so many people getting out and taking holidays, visiting family or going on adventures.  Older travellers went to more than 50 countries in 2001, with 18490 going to Australia, 2478 travelling to Western European countries and 1143 travelling to North America.  Most of the remaining rravellers went to the Pacific Islands.

Here are some of the simple health planning suggestions for older travellers.

  • It's a good idea to discuss your detailed travel itinerary with your GP well in advance of travelling
  • Visit your dentist and make sure you teeth are okay.
  • Ask you GP to prescribe you plenty of medication for any existing medical conditions you have and carry it in your cabin luggage.  Be aware that some medications (eg Insulin) can deteriorate in the heat and should be stored in a cool vacuum flask.
  • Travelling through multiple time zones can be a challenge for people who need to monitor their medication level frequently - such as diabetics and people who need careful monitoring of a heart condition.
  • Ask your GP for a letter outlining any significant medical history - with the dosages and generic names of any drugs you are on.
  • Wear a medicalert bracelet if you have one.
  • Talk about prevention of leg clots with your GP - moving around the airline cabin is not recommended by the airlines as the risk of injury if the airplane hits an air pocket outweighs the benefits.
  • Remember to take a spare pair of spectacles as well as the prescription for your spectacles or enough contact lens solution for the whole journey - and spare batteries for any hearing aids.
  • Take a good first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Get as fit and healthy as possible before you go - travelling is often hard work!
  • Get all your vaccines checked - including the flu and think about malaria as well depending on where you are travelling.
  • Think about the climate that you are heading for - older people who may be overweight or have heart of diabetes problems are much less tolerant of hot climates and need to take care with extra fluids.  Don't forget about sunburn.
  • Beware of diarrhoea - older people need to know how to treat diarrhoea.  And the reverse - beware of constipation.  
  • Ensure you have travel insurance covering pre-existing conditions and it's a good idea to know how to get hold of your GP back at home.
  • With these simple precautions you can set out to have a great time.

Kathy Powell. 

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Mobility Parking Permit Scheme (Disability Stickers for Cars)
New Zealand CCS disabilty action operates the Mobility Parking Permit Scheme which provides people with Mobility Parking Spaces.  Mobility Parking Permits cost $30 for 1 year, $45 for 5 years.
All applications require a doctor's certificate. Information and applications forms can be obtained from your local CCS branch.

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Safe Driving Tips
For older people one of the keys to being able to continue to drive safety is to be aware of warning signs of unsafe driving and improving driving skills.

Some signs to look for may be

  • Not being as confident driving
  • Having difficulty turning to see when reversing
  • Being easily distracted
  • Other drivers honking their horns at you
  • Noticing scratches or dents on your drivers door, mailbox or garage
  • Getting agitated or irritated while driving
  • Driving too fast or slow for the conditions
  • Failing to spot hazards; having a near miss; getting traffic tickets; being involved in a crash with some degree of fault; failing to stop at a Stop sign or red light
  • Confusing the accelerator and brake pedals
  • Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason
  • Failing to keep within lane
  • Getting lost in familiar places

Safety tips for driving can include:

  • Planning before you leave including driving on streets you know; limiting trips to places that are easy to get to and close to home; taking roads that will avoid risky spots like ramps and left turns; adding extra time for travel if driving conditions are bad; not driving when you are stressed or tired.
  • While you are driving always wearing your seat belt; staying off the cell phone; avoiding distractions such as eating, listening to the radio, or having conversations; making sure there is enough space behind your car; using your window defrosters to keep both the front and back windows clear.
  • Car safety: Drive a car with air bags; checking your windshield wiper blades often and replace them when needed; keeping your headlights clean and aimed in the right direction

Other websites of interest for Older Drivers include: 

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Staying Safe
A new set of tools aimed at keeping older road users safe on New Zealand roads is available free online.
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has launched the Staying Safe online toolkit - a suite of new older driver education resources to help improve road safety for people over 70 years of age. The free tools are now available at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/senior-road-users.
The Staying Safe course content and supporting material are designed to help organisations provide road safety refresher workshops for older drivers. It also includes a dedicated online section designed for use by individual older drivers - which will provide interactive activities and information to help older drivers improve safety for themselves.
The Staying Safe guidelines and supporting materials are available to any organisation that wishes to provide a refresher workshop for senior road users, and there are a number of ways workshops can be delivered. For example, councils may want to coordinate workshops and then have a provider to deliver them in their region, or a retirement village might deliver them to members in their community.
For more information on the workshops or to access the senior road user section, go to www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/senior-road-users

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Total Mobility Scheme
The Total Mobility Scheme is available to people who have a  permanent disability that means they are no longer able to drive or are unable to use public transport.  The scheme enables holders to receive a discount on taxi fares. 

NZ Transport Agency has a user’s guide to the Total Mobility scheme in the different regions around New Zealand.

You can also contact your local Age Concern Council to find out more about eligibility and availability in your area.

As well as Taxi Companies, Driving Miss Daisy is also registered as a Total Mobility Scheme Provider in most areas of New Zealand.

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Volunteer transport schemes
In many centres,  Age Concern Councils  run volunteer transport schemes. Volunteers involved in these schemes drive older people who require transport to doctors' and other appointments or to local activities or groups for older people.  At the Age Concern website click on your area of the New Zealand map to find out what is available in your area. 

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Other Websites of Interest

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