Dealing with Transportation Needs
As we age, driving can be a very dangerous thing for ourselves and those around us. Luckily, in most areas transportation options are abundant.
Older adults are at an increased risk for dangerous driving situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 260,000 older adults were injured in traffic accidents in 2015; 6,800 older adults died in traffic accidents in the same year. Seniors are at risk for accidents due to chronic conditions, medication side effects, decreased vision and slowed response time.
While eliminating driving can keep some seniors safer, it can also create a new lifestyle problem. If your senior loved one no longer drives independently, you may find you are spending much of your time attempting to get them from point A to point B. Beyond getting to important doctor appointments and to the grocery store, seniors also need to get to social activities and gatherings. Without reliable transportation, seniors can quickly become homebound and face negative social, emotional, and physical consequences.
There are many transportation options that can provide the support you need. Here are just a few places to start when compiling a list of transportation assistance services.
Transportation Solution #1: You
If you can cover some of the transportation yourself, do so. You can easily determine what appointments you can drive to by checking your calendar and being realistic with your other obligations. Driving together is a wonderful time to talk but be sure you are not tempted to offer transportation on days when your schedule is already tight. It is best to find other options for those situations.
Transportation Solution #2: Family and Friends
Try enlisting the help of family members and friends. Driving is a task that most people are happy to do when asked.
When you are calling family and friends to ask for transportation help, be sure you only ask those who are responsible and reliable drivers. Once they commit to driving, remind them about their transportation date a few days prior. Also, update them on special instructions.
Transportation Solution #3: Public Transportation
A vibrant public transit system can be a viable option for getting to and from appointments or places. While it might not be available for seniors living in more rural areas, city dwellers can take advantage of public busses or trains.
Call the public transit authority to get the route maps for any busses or trains that are available. Next, inquire about how to get a discounted senior pass. Then, determine which bus or train to take when going to places of interest, like church or the grocery store.
Assure safety by assessing if your loved one is physically and cognitively capable to navigate the transit system. If they could use some help, this is the perfect time to enlist the help of a friend or professional caregiver to be a companion for the trip.
Transportation Solution #4: City Senior Services
In large cities, and in tiny townships, there is often a service designated to provide transportation to seniors. Call the city or township and ask for senior services or transportation assistance. You can find out how to schedule a ride – many places require at least a day’s notice – and what costs are associated with the trip.
It is wise to keep in mind that these services are just for transportation. Once at the destination, seniors need to be able to manage the rest of the appointment on their own.
Transportation Solution #5: Park District
Many park districts offer trips specifically for seniors that depart from the local senior center. Pick up a program guide to see if there are trips that may be of interest. These events are typically reasonably priced and offer a fun way to make friends for a stir-crazy senior.
Transportation Solution #6: American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society has regional volunteers who take seniors to and from chemotherapy appointments. If this is applicable to your situation, this service can provide a safe and reliable way to make it to those important treatments.
Transportation Solution #7: People Who Are Headed in the Same Direction
If your loved one needs a ride to church, a support group, or Book Club, consider finding someone who is headed there as well to give a ride. You can call the organization to see if there is someone that can provide a ride. You can also ask if there are car pool opportunities.
Transportation Solution #8: Area Agency on Aging
A bit different that your town’s senior services department, an Area Agency on Aging serves as a hub for all local senior resources. Find your regional agency and inquire about transportation services they provide or recommend.
Transportation Solution #9: Professional Caregiver or Agency
Using a professional caregiver to provide transportation can be a way to build a relationship with a home care agency. Caregivers provide transportation as well as companionship during the outing, which makes it a safe option for seniors with cognitive or physical challenges. For example, if your loved one has mobility issues that make it difficult to get in and out of a car, having a trained caregiver nearby is a wise safety decision.
Transportation Solution #10: Ride Share Services
Ride share services, like Uber and Lyft, are not just for young city dwellers. You can use these apps in a pinch and if applicable, your loved one can download the app on their phone as well.
Transportation Solution #11: Limo or Taxi Services
Finally, limo or taxi services are a tried and true method of transportation for seniors in any size city or town. When possible, set up rides in advance along with a designated pick up time.
To make plans clear, create a transportation calendar on your phone or in your planner. Keep all appointments and activities in this designated space. Make transportation arrangements at the beginning of each month, when possible. Write down who is taking your loved one, along with contact information for the service or driver. This method keeps everything in one central location and is helpful if something comes up or you need to cancel.
It is also important that your loved one has emergency information on them when they are out and about. Have a card printed with emergency contact information as well as any medical concerns to tuck in their purse or wallet.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, November 27). Older driver safety awareness week. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-driver-safety/index.html