When loved ones are no longer able to drive, transportation problems can become potentially crippling. It’s estimated about half of Americans over 65 do not have access to public transit. This is especially common among rural areas. But access to personal transportation for seniors can be essential to maintaining independence, being able to visit with friends and family, and being able to attend medical appointments on time.
The good news is that you can find a variety of transportation options to help, and many of them are aimed specifically at seniors. The bad news is that locating and utilizing these services is often more challenging than you might think. You might have to balance affordability, eligibility, accessibility, and other special needs for support.
Rides for Seniors to Medical Appointments
Finding transportation for seniors to medical appointments can be done through a variety of private businesses, state programs, and nonprofit organizations. A good place to start searching is by looking through options for public transit.
Depending on where you live, seniors might have access ferries, shuttles, trams, busses, subways, light rail, and so forth. These are usually available at a fairly low cost, and may be specially discounted for seniors. Of course, some cities have good public transit options, and others do not.
Another option worth considering is private service with a rideshare app, like Uber. These are more expensive than public transit, making them suboptimal for people on a fixed income. But for making the occasional medical appointment, they can do the trick.
Additionally, though it doesn’t have the name recognition of Uber, there is a rideshare service for seniors called GoGoGrandparent. Foldable wheelchairs and other walking devices are no issue for GoGoGrandparent, making it a good choice for those who are able to get in and out of cars without assistance.
Senior Medical Transportation
One of the biggest advantages of public transit and private services is that they are not limited to attending medical appointments. But options for strictly medical transit also exist. For instance, you might consider contacting your closest Area Agency on Aging to search for volunteer programs.
Volunteer driver programs usually have minimal costs, with most only requiring seniors to reserve their ride in advance. For example, Texas is home to a free, volunteer based program called Drive a Senior, available to those with limited driving ability, and who are able to walk on their own.
For finding similar local programs, the government has set up a website, Eldercare Locator, which lets you search by zip code for local transportation services, as well as other senior services.
Because rides for seniors to medical appointments is essential to receiving care, insurance providers sometimes include coverage for transportation costs related to medical purposes. There are usually limits on the number of trips you can take, but it’s worth investigating what’s included in your coverage.
This is also true for Medicaid. Transportation for disabled seniors is guaranteed by the federal government through Paratransit, though non-emergency medical transportation services may be limited depending on where you live. By contrast, Medicare usually does not cover transportation, apart from when an ambulance is medically necessary.
Making Medical Appointments on Time
Securing transportation for the elderly to doctor appointments is a necessary part of providing the care that your loved ones both need and deserve. There’s no such thing as a one-size fits all transportation program. Some are more accessible to disabled seniors; others are less accessible. But if you take the time to investigate each of the programs available in your area, you’ll likely discover that you have more options than you thought.