Senior Transportation – 14 Alternatives to Driving for Mobility and Independence
Traveling or getting from one place to another is one of the pressing problems as people get older. Although using a car is convenient, some seniors sometimes may have to give up on driving due to various reasons. But that does not mean they should compromise on their independence. There are alternative methods that are comfortable and offer sufficient freedom to move around. Here are 14 common senior transportation methods.
Area Agencies on Aging
One of the first places to check for elderly transportation services is the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). They offer transportation programs that aging or individuals with special needs can apply to. Local aging services programs may provide their own transportation services or refer you to another program or agency. The services offered in each area may differ, so it is important to check if the agency offers modes of transport in your region. There is an eligibility criteria that you should bear in mind before applying to these programs. You should also keep these factors in mind:
- The transportation service is dedicated solely to healthcare appointments. It cannot be used to go around shopping or to carry out other non-essential activities.
- The appointment must be scheduled in advance. If there is a cancellation, it must be arranged within a certain amount of time.
- If you book a ride and fail to cancel it without any prior notice, the transportation service might restrict you from availing future services.
- Some senior transportation services may also offer modes of transport to adult daycare centers.
USAging is the national organization that represents and works with AAAs. Along with offering transportation services, the organization also offers caregiver support, health promotion programs, social engagement services, and home and community-based support.
Private senior transportation
The demand for senior transportation has risen gradually and this has led to the growth of multiple private transportation services across the country. While it has become easier to move around, each ride has a cost that may differ depending on several factors. But an upside is that appointments can be made quickly. You could schedule a ride for yourself with little notice as long as a driver is available to take up the request. The drivers are trained to meet their clients at the door, help them into the car, and accompany them to their destination. Once the appointment is complete, the senior can call for a return ride to their home. There are companies that also offer 24-hour transportation service with wheelchair access, including lifts and the ability to accommodate a stretcher. Other companies may offer sedans to seniors if wheelchair access isn’t required.
If you have to give up being behind the wheel, you could try public transit options. A few popular modes for senior citizens include the bus, subway, or light rail. Public transport is one of the cheapest modes of transit if you need to get to an event or a planned medical appointment. Moreover, there are several public transit companies that may offer discounts if you use their mode of transport. You should bear in mind that as a senior, it is vital to be physically able to access this transport mode as it might be challenging. Healthcare experts urge senior members with cognitive impairment to avoid such modes of transport, as such individuals are at an increased risk of getting lost.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) made it mandatory for any community that offers public transportation to accommodate senior individuals with disabilities. Paratransit offers wheelchair-accessible vans for senior members. There are a few things you should remember about the program.
- Paratransit services cannot charge any more than double the cost of regular public transit.
- The pick-up and drop-off service is limited to curb-to-curb. The driver will not come to the door. However, they will assist older individuals with a disability to enter and exit the vehicle.
- If you opt for the service, you must register for it beforehand and meet the eligibility criteria. Also, you need to schedule the ride in advance, usually at least 24 hours earlier.
- When you book the mode of transport, you might have to wait at least 30 minutes before the vehicle arrives. So ensure to call the driver up to avoid any delays.
One of the most common alternatives to driving around is taxi services. Taking a cab could empower you with the freedom to go around as much as you’d like to. The good thing about hailing a cab is that you do not need to give any advance notice before hiring one. Additionally, the booking process can be much simpler – all you need to do is dial a number and hire one. On the other hand, a downside can be the price. Taxis may cost more than other senior transportation options. You might also require help to get in and out of the cab. So you could ask your family member, friend, or the driver, if they are comfortable, for help.
If you live in the city or suburbs, consider traveling by local transport. These services are available through volunteer programs, non-profits, assisted living centers, or government facilities. The routes are usually pre-set and are similar to a bus system. The program that arranges such modes of transport may also function like a taxi service that can accommodate several senior occupants at once. Local transportation options are ideal for seniors because they are easily accessible and safe, and they enable you to move around town and other areas with ease. Most routes are organized to ensure door-to-door service. Moreover, the drivers may be trained to assist you with certain requirements. You should also bear in mind that local transportation routes often go to fixed locations and move on a fixed schedule and route. Therefore, ensure that you are ready to be picked up at least 10 to 15 minutes before the estimated time.
GoGoGrandparent stands out among many private cab aggregators due to its simple user interface. The service allows you to call a cab without using an app. All you need to do is call their main line, +1 (855) 464-6872, and press a number to access services. The company’s membership starts at $10 per month. A few features offered include transportation, grocery runs, meal delivery, prescription drop-offs, and home services like caregivers, dog walkers, housekeepers, and more. All these services along with a convenient automated system make GoGoGrandparent a safe and reliable option for older adults and those with disabilities who need assistance to move around.
Family and friends
This is one of the best and easiest ways for you to get around from one place to another. You could ask a family member or a friend to step in to drive you to a doctor’s appointment, a local event, sightseeing, or for dinner outdoors. This is a perfect alternative to other modes of transportation as it helps keep your travel costs at a bare minimum. Furthermore, the act of a family member or friend driving you around can be a great way to connect with them. It’s best to let your family and friends know about any upcoming appointments beforehand. It could help ensure that you do not fall short of transportation on the day you need to travel.
One of the most popular non-profits for transportation services is the Independent Transportation Network of America (ITNAmerica). The program is available to adults aged 60 and older. ITNAmerica charges an annual membership fee. Once you complete the payment, you become eligible for transportation around the clock and door-to-door assistance for getting in and out of the vehicle. The program is active in a select number of communities and states in the country. So you must check if the area where you live is covered by this transportation program.
Volunteer driver programs
Volunteer driver services are another way through which seniors can travel effortlessly. Several programs connect volunteers with senior individuals who require rides. There are various programs that offer cheap and reasonable medical transportation services. Most volunteer driver programs are dedicated to offering rides to older individuals. However, some of these services also accommodate veterans or clinic patients. You could contact the local Council on Aging to check your eligibility for a transportation program in your state. You could also inquire if the local community-based organization in your county offers similar transport services. One of the best ways to find the ideal medical transportation service is to call 211 – the national information and referral number – available 24 hours. This will help you get the most relevant information on volunteer programs available in the area.
If you cannot get a friend or family member to drive you around, hiring a caregiver might be the ideal solution. Look for an in-home caregiver willing to drive and take you to your respective appointments. They should also run errands and take you to visit family and friends. Having reliable transportation and someone to accompany seniors may help them stay as independent as possible. Having a caregiver around will also help keep you engaged everyday and prevent isolation. But make sure these factors are accounted for before hiring a professional.
- Ask about their driving record and history, including how long they’ve driven and their best and worst driving experiences with seniors.
- Get a copy of their official Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record to compare and match it with the information they have given you. You could get this information by calling your state’s DMV or visiting their website.
- Create situations for the caregiver and ask them what they would do to solve a problem in case something unexpected happens while dealing with a senior member. For example, ask the professional what they would do in case you start feeling unwell.
- Check if the caregiver offers their own car as a transportation service for seniors, or if they will have to drive your vehicle.
- Make them take a test drive so that you can assess how safely they can drive.
- Set the ground rules, including destinations off limits, driving hours, and who is approved to sit in the car. Doing so will help avoid any misunderstanding with the caregiver after you hire them to drive you around. You should also document the rules and regulations in an employment contract to make it official.
Ride-hailing services could give you access to a cab, anywhere, if available, as long as you have a smartphone. If you are not comfortable with using a smartphone, you could ask a family member or friend to complete the task for you. This type of cab service is available in most parts of the country. They offer a range of accessible transportation services to meet the requirements of seniors and for people with disabilities. Another benefit of using a ride-hailing app is that you do not need to commit to a regular schedule. You could book a cab, or ask someone else to make the booking, whenever you please. Ride-sharing apps also show you the exact distance between the vehicle’s and the booking device’s location. So you can be better prepared to board the vehicle when it arrives. These services also offer real-time tracking, license plate, and driver names. So you can rest assured that the service will get you from one place to another safely.
Senior community transportation
If you live in a senior community, you could take advantage of this mode of transportation. These services can be arranged through a concierge program. Some communities may offer handicap-accessible buses for residents so that you could use them for transportation, including to healthcare appointments and shopping trips. The transportation services costs are usually included in the monthly fee of most senior living communities. These services are beneficial as the bus driver may be able to assist you to move in and out of the place you’re visiting, whether that’s an office or a store. However, they might not be able to stay the entire time. This is something you should factor in. If you’re wondering about what to look for in a senior community that offers transportation, here’s what you can do:
- Check if they offer convenient pick-up times and locations
- Enquire about the cost and fees of transportation
- Ask for the number of years that the company has been in business. A long-established senior community might provide a better experience.
- Inspect the cleanliness and comfort of the transportation method.
- Enquire if the company conducts background checks on the drivers to ensure that you feel safe when you are on the move.
- Read online reviews and see what other people who have previously used the community’s transportation service have to say.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) Program
Here you can get help for select services like medical and dentist appointments, exercise programs, therapies, and testing. The NEMT program is popularly known for serving Medicaid beneficiaries. It offers transport to and from the location of the appointment. The program also chooses the appropriate mode of transport and provides coverage for all transportation-related expenses. Multiple companies have non-emergency medical transportation programs with unique transit services for the elderly.
A popular pick for rides amongst most senior individuals is Veyo, a transportation company that partners with Medicaid and Medicare Advantage providers to offer non-emergency medical transportation to seniors. Veyo uses independent contractors who are trained in CPR and first aid. The services are covered by insurance but you’ll need to check with your insurance company if they are contracted with Veyo. You should note that even if you qualify for the ride, you cannot sign up for the service or arrange for a cab yourself. You may have to ask your insurance company to schedule a ride at the selected time. The service is a suitable option if you have a doctor’s appointment and if you might require special vehicles to accommodate wheelchairs or stretchers.