When Uber first rolled out in Richmond, I was among one of the early adopters. For me, Uber was cheaper and faster than taking a taxi, which made going out for drinks almost too easy. Little did I know, the technology that carted me to and from bars could be used for a much greater need: helping seniors maintain their independence.
I first discovered this use when I was visiting my Grandad, who was excited to show me his new app. When I peeked over his shoulder, I saw he was using the Uber app, ready to book his ride home. I found it surprising that my 80-something grandfather and I both raved about the same app. However, I realized that I liked Uber for similar reasons he did.
How Uber and Lyft Can Help Seniors
My Grandad wanted independence, but couldn’t always drive his own car. That’s where Uber or Lyft came in handy. He could book his own rides to his appointments and not rely on someone to take him. And he’s not the only one. In fact, RideShare Guy estimates that 40% of his passengers are over 50. Here are three reasons Uber is popular among seniors.
- Mobility matters. Seniors who don’t drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctors and 65% fewer visits to friends and family, which leads to poorer health and isolation. With Uber or Lyft, seniors who can’t or shouldn’t drive can get out of the house, increase their socialization, and engage in society.
- Safely and easily book a ride: The first time I saw my Grandad use Uber, he was getting a ride in downtown Charleston in June. It was hot. Instead of wandering outside trying to flag a taxi, he could sit safely in an air conditioned building until his driver arrived. He knew exactly what car to look for, when they were close, and who to expect once he got in the car. Uber made navigating a city easy for someone who can’t walk far, especially in extreme heat.
- Improving accessibility: Uber has rolled out UberWAV in some cities, which matches riders with wheelchair accessible vans as needed. Lyft also now features accessible vehicle dispatch, which will either provide an accessible ride or information to local services.
How to Help Seniors Use Uber or Lyft
At first, rideshare apps might seem like a young person’s game, but seniors stand to benefit from Uber and Lyft. While ridesharing might be more inherent for those who grew up in the technological era, there are few ways to help seniors become comfortable with using Uber or Lyft.
- Download Uber or Lyft: The easiest way to help a senior use Uber or Lyft is to download the app onto their phone (with permission of course). There are subtle differences between Uber and Lyft, but overall, either is a good option for helping seniors become more mobile. Once the app is downloaded, spend a few minutes explaining how to book a ride, input a credit card, and track a driver.
- Encourage them: Even when I think back to my first time using Uber, I didn’t want to do it alone. Consider taking an Uber with a senior for their first trip. Or, possibly consider giving a senior ride credits to try out Uber or Lyft without having to spend their own money.
- Explain rideshare quirks: There are some oddities when it comes to Uber and Lyft. For example, is it customary to tip your driver? And remember, it’s easy to get frustrated when you get stuck paying multiples of what you expect, so explain surge pricing.
- Consider alternatives: If the senior in your life doesn’t have a smartphone, know that there are companies that exist solely to help seniors use rideshare programs. Arrive Rides and GoGoGrandparent are two companies that seniors can call to get an Uber or Lyft.
Getting older comes with challenges, but using technology like Uber and Lyft can help to keep seniors engaged in their community even if they no longer hold a license.
Author Bio: Sara Woznicki is a content specialist at Compare.com, one of the largest car insurance comparison websites in the United States. She lives in Richmond, Virginia. You can find her on Twitter at @SaraWoznicki, and Compare.com at @Compare_com.”