Ideas to Consider for Finding Senior Ride Services
Perhaps you and the one you care for have decided that driving is not a safe activity. This is often a difficult decision, and it is made more difficult by the lack of senior ride services and transportation alternatives in many areas.
On the other hand, consider the perspective of the senior who does not drive. If your loved one stopped driving, how can they get around to go shopping, and to go to doctor’s appointments, and social engagements? Are there any senior ride services available? Who can help?
Caregivers should consider alternative rides services for the senior.
Explore these ideas:
- Perhaps family members nearby and willing to give the senior a ride regularly.
- Ask friends who are competent drivers if they are willing to give the senior a ride.
- Look for community institutions that offer rides, like senior citizens’ centers, that offer transportation to grocery stores, department stores, etc. on a weekly basis.
- Inquire at the senior’s church or temple for a van or carpooling program for non-drivers on the Sabbath.
- Find a taxi service or ride-share service that may have available and affordable senior ride services in their area.
- Locate the closest bus stop and bus routes that could be useful to the senior.
- There are free transportation services available to Medicaid recipients to help them go to medical appointments. How do you access that transportation service?
- What can the senior afford to pay for a ride? What does it cost?
Once you find some senior ride services or other alternatives, ask yourself, is the senior willing to use them? It might help if you would make arrangements to accompany them on a trip using one or more of these services. This way you can make a realistic evaluation of the service and the senior’s ability to access and use the service. It is also important to consider the price and any limitations of the service, such as distance or frequency. Does this service cater to seniors, and do they accommodate the disabled senior?
For example, there is a public bus paratransit service available for wheelchair-users in a nearby town. The paratransit service picks up and lets off wheelchair users at a bus station/park and ride facility. Unfortunately, this leaves wheelchair-users to find their own transportation to and from the bus station.
I have been alarmed to see people in wheelchairs “driving” down a two-lane road with no sidewalks or shoulders followed by a line of traffic to get to that bus station. So, if the wheelchair- user can make it to the paratransit bus in one piece without being hit by a car, he has a ride to his destination. Apparently, there’s been no consideration of how safe the wheelchair-user is out on a road battling traffic to get to that bus. This is not a service that is safely serving disabled persons. It would be much better to pick-up and deliver the wheelchair-user to his home, rather than a bus station.
Can the senior plan their trips for the week ahead of time and make reservations for the ride service? Some seniors are able to predict their needs and schedule and act independently to arrange for help. Others might need help from you to make a schedule and make calls for service. Family members and friends can get really annoyed at the senior who calls and demands a trip to the store every day, or who calls at the last minute about keeping an appointment. And, according to what I have heard from ride-dependent seniors, family and friends do stop answering the phone when they have been annoyed for a while. Sad, but true.
Before a decision is made that the senior should not drive any more, take some time to investigate and discuss some realistic, affordable alternatives for him. You know that everybody needs to get out of the house and be as independent in the community as possible. Finding transportation alternatives is not easy in many localities. It’s worth your time to investigate all the possibilities for a senior who does not drive.
“Traffic Safety Facts”, May 2012, Revised May, 2014. DOT HS 812 005. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Dept. of Transportation.