Ask almost anyone over the age of sixty and they will tell you growing older is almost no fun at all. With age comes wisdom, but also many physical and mental challenges. These physical challenges – such as diminished eyesight, poor night vision, hearing loss, and limited mobility – can all lead to an elderly person losing their ability to drive. No longer being able to drive can have a huge impact on an elderly person. They can no longer run to the store if they need a grocery item or medication. They cannot drive to a doctor’s appointment. If they are feeling lonely, they can’t just swing by a friend or family member’s house. A major part of a person’s independence is gone when they can no longer drive. This can lead to feelings of isolation, worthlessness, and depression. Luckily, even if an elderly person can no longer drive themselves to errands, appointments, and social gatherings, all is not lost. Even better, the responsibility does not have to fall solely on family members and other caregivers to help the elderly get around. In our new and exciting technological age, there are many transportation services for elderly and disabled adults to help get where they need to go in a safe and relatively inexpensive manner.
Personal Transportation for Seniors
Once a senior can no longer drive themselves around town, they may feel burdensome or frustrated by having to rely on others to either drive them somewhere or make transportation plans for them. This is where rideshare smartphone apps like Uber and Lyft can come in handy. You can help your elderly parent download the app and show them how it works. You could even take their first Uber ride with them so they won’t feel awkward about the process. These apps are a great method of elderly transportation for a number of reasons:
- Safely and easily book a ride. The rider can stay inside their house while they wait for their ride. No standing on a corner waiting for a bus in the rain or hoping for a taxi when its 95-degrees outside. They will know exactly what car is coming to get them, when it will arrive, and who is driving. Then they can relax on the way to their destination.
- Improving accessibility. One concern related to senior transportation is accessibility. Can the ride accommodate a wheelchair? What about a service animal? What if the rider is blind or hard of hearing? Uber and Lyft are working to meet these needs as well. UberWAV has started to roll out in larger cities, and Lyft features a service that will either match the rider with a wheelchair accessible van or text information on how to find local transportation for handicapped elderly adults.
If you have an elderly loved one who is not a fan of smartphones, all hope is not lost. GoGoGrandparent is a service that can book a Lyft or Uber for a senior. They can be accessed online or by phone and rides can be booked in advance.
Public Transportation for Elderly Adults
Public transportation can be a great option for seniors. It is generally affordable, and there are often senior discounts available. Unfortunately, not every area has great public transportation options for seniors, so other elderly transportation services will be discussed later in this article.
Long Distance Elderly Transportation
Being elderly does not mean you are confined to a small area, and long-distance travel is still possible. There are several things you can do to make seniors transportation over long distances easier for everyone. If traveling by air, call the airline in advance to let them know you will need assistance at the airport. This includes a wheelchair to maneuver between gates, and help to get through the dreaded airport security lines. You can also choose seats on the plane near bathrooms or aisles if needed.
Short Distance Senior Transportation to Doctor Appointments
Transportation to the many doctor appointments seniors often need is a huge concern when a parent or family member can no longer drive. Doctor appointments take place during work hours, which could mean caregivers will need to take time off from work to help their elderly loved ones get around. Luckily, there are elderly transportation services that exist just for this purpose. A new rideshare program called Veyo exists specifically to provide non-emergency medical transport. Veyo’s Independent Driver Providers “meet strict healthcare standards and participate in ADA education, CPR certification, and HIPAA, Sensitivity, and Medical Needs training. They undergo drug testing and multi-level background checks to ensure safety and the highest level of quality.” They are not just transportation for seniors in wheelchairs – they can even help those with limited or no mobility or a more serious medical condition.
Transportation for Seniors with Medicare
Medicare covers some options for senior transportation, though the only kind that is guaranteed is emergency transport in an ambulance. Recently, Lyft has partnered with Medicare and some plan options cover rides to and from doctor’s appointments, and even rides to pharmacies or other health care locations. Every plan is different, though, so always check before assuming something is covered.
Other Transportation Options for Elderly Adults
The need for transportation services for the elderly is only growing. While there are a few locations that list every senior transportation service, there are some websites you can visit that will help you find the information you need. EldercareLocator will help you find a multitude of services for the elderly, not just those related to transportation. You can also connect with a mobility manager. According to AARP, “Mobility managers work with communities to develop coordinated elderly transportation programs and help individual customers, particularly older, disabled and low-income people, navigate the range of transit options in their area.” Dialing 211 is also an option to learn information about social services in your local community.
The caregiver role is not an easy one. It is important to remember you are not alone. You do not need to single-handedly drive your parent or senior loved one every place they need to go. The number of elderly transportation services is rising and will continue to grow. You can find a safe, affordable option for both you and your loved one. Your senior parent can maintain their independence and you will have one less thing to worry about. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these services and use them to help.