A key factor in independent living is independence in transportation. While some seniors are able to drive themselves safely to and from wherever they need to go, many folks aging in place rely on the goodwill of family and friends for everything from doctor’s appointments to social visits to running errands.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with getting rides from family and friends, but it can lead to dependence on people who may not always be available. What happens when your daughter goes out of town or your good friend has plans? How will you get to your doctor’s appointment or to that social event?
Without independence in transportation, you may start to feel isolated or dependent, which are both feelings you’re trying to avoid by choosing independent living! Fortunately, most cities have transportation services for the elderly and disabled that will allow you to maintain your independence.
The services available will vary from city to city, but these are relatively wide-spread options that are likely available where you live. Be sure to search “transportation options for seniors in my area” to get a better picture of exactly what is available to you.
Public Transportation and Paratransit
Most major cities have public transportation systems, and all cities with public transportation systems are required by law to offer paratransit. Paratransit is designed for individuals who, due to disabilities, are unable to ride public transportation.
Public transportation is typically low cost and a good option for running errands or going to doctor appointments.
You must be able to walk to your nearest bus stop or other public transportation pick up point, which will be a limiting aspect for some people.
If you’re unable to walk to a public transportation pick up point or if you’re unable to ride public transportation for another reason due to a condition or other disability, paratransit may be a better option for you. Paratransit will be able to accommodate your mobility helpers and may offer a pickup service at your door.
Paratransit is not available for everyone; you usually need to apply online. Search for “paratransit in *insert your city*” to find options available to you as well as pricing and eligibility requirements.
Public transportation services may be discounted for elderly and disabled folks so be sure to check for the options in your local area.
Best For: Public transportation and paratransit are typically best for getting to popular destinations like grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and social gatherings held in public places. They are typically not a good option for getting to someone’s private address unless that person lives near a drop off point.
Rideshare services are great options for folks who need door-to-door service or for getting to residential addresses that public transport won’t take you to. They are usually more expensive than public transportation, however, which will be a limiting factor for some people.
Depending on your level of mobility and adeptness with technology, you may need to choose a specific rideshare service. Lyft and Uber are great options if you can successfully navigate their apps and can get safely to and from the car on your own.
If you do need help getting from your door into the car and out of the car into your destination, UberAssist offers drivers with training to help you with these tasks.
If you have a hard time using apps on your phone, you can use GoGoGrandparent. Instead of using an app, you make a phone call to GoGoGrandparent and they take care of everything from scheduling the ride, to screening and paying the driver, to making sure there’s plenty of space in the car for your mobility aids.
GoGoGrandparent is a membership service and is a little more expensive than a regular Lyft and Uber ride, but they make things super easy for their customers!
Best For: Rideshare services are best for getting to and from private addresses or other locations public transportation won’t go to. It can be quite expensive and for that reason is usually best for special occasions not weekly errands.
Some communities have free or low-cost services designed specifically to give rides to seniors and keep them living independently. Some of these services may be specifically for medical appointments and other necessities and some are for daily living, errands, and social activities.
Best For: Community services are multi-purpose; the services offered in your area will limit whether they work well for getting to and from social events, doctors visits, and/or errands.
Finding transportation options that work for you may be a process, but it is well worth the independence it brings.