Having the option to get out of the house and drive around whenever the need or desire arises plays a significant role in independence and enjoyment. When we’re younger, very seldom do we think much about what it entails to get behind the wheel and go. The process of getting from point A to point B seems so simple and straightforward, and almost second nature.
However, that seemingly simple task can become more and more difficult with age. Whether it is due to limitations in mobility, sight, or fear, not being able to drive hinders the ability to run errands, socialize, and attend important appointments. Because driving is so integrated with independence, sometimes seniors will refuse to give up driving regardless if they no longer feel comfortable behind the wheel or if their children urge them to stop due to safety concerns.
Being able to find transportation services in your local area can mean the difference between your elderly parent being able to stay in their own home or not. Statistics indicate that senior citizens attend fewer medical appointments with age and more than half of them stay at home on a daily basis, due to lack of transportation. Depending on where you live there are several transportation services that have been established, and medical insurance will sometimes cover travel expenses, especially when required for medical care.
Local transportation options may include:
Facility transportation services: Many senior communities provide transportation services for social activities, appointments and running errands
Taxis, Uber, Lyft: Occasionally these services provide door-to-door assistance for elderly clients that consists of walking them to the door, or helping them with accessories, wheelchairs, or walkers. Call in advance to find out what services are available.
Public transit: Traditional public transportation including bus or subway typically have stops near well-traveled areas such as medical and shopping businesses.
Para-transit: For senior citizens unable to ride regular public transportation vehicles, check into the availability of Para-transit. Many of these services use vans or small buses to aid seniors with disabilities. However, they also have limited space and many require approval to use their services.
Volunteers: For the occasional outing or appointments, oftentimes a neighbor, friend or relative can assist with transportation with a little advanced notice.
Ride sharing: Nonprofit organizations and community transportation services sometimes offer ride sharing or dial-a-ride services.
Many of these are low cost options, however, if for times when there is a tight timeframe such as attending a doctor’s appointment, a more reliable option is needed. Fortunately, Medicaid provides coverage for medical transportation, but in regards to private insurance providers or Medicare, coverage will be limited at best.
When assessing the transportation options for an aging parent, verify costs, background checks, legitimacy and safety.