Transportation for the Aging
Perhaps no single event is more devastating to an elderly senior’s sense of independence than losing their ability to drive. Many want to keep their driving privileges even when they pose a great risk to themselves and to others. Discussing the situation with your loved one’s personal physician - if you need support in determining an elderly senior’s safe driving capacity – will greatly help when it becomes necessary to limit their ability to drive.
Nevertheless, some form of transportation for aging seniors is not only crucial to ensure access to essential services such as medical care and grocery shopping but also to enhance their sense of independence and social connection. The availability of adequate transportation enables older persons to live independently in their communities, helps to prevent isolation and the possible need for long-term institutional placement. Many older people, who do not drive, must rely on family and friends provide much of the transportation. But for others, it is necessary to find private, public or community resources to provide transportation as this vital support may be their only connection to the outside world.
Transportation services for the elderly vary in communities depending upon where you live. Types of transportation that may be available include:
- Individual Door - to- Door Service: Whether you are looking for yourself, a family member or a friend, consider what type of service would best meet your needs. Door -to-Door service refers to transportation from one specific location to another, requiring advanced notice. This type of service is based upon demand and allows the most flexibility.
- Fixed Route with Scheduled Services: Fixed route and scheduled services transport riders along an established route with predetermined stops at designated locations. Although this service provides less flexibility and fees on a per-ride basis (that may be discounted for seniors), advanced reservations are not required.
- Ridesharing with Volunteer Drivers: Ridesharing programs generally arrange for older persons needing rides to be transported to specific destinations such as senior centers, adult day care, and health-related appointments with volunteer drivers. Many volunteer programs exist with minimal or no cost with the help and support of your local Area on Aging.
Your local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start your search for transportation services. In some communities, the Area Agency on Aging arranges, monitors, and supports programs that provide transportation for the elderly. Even if your local agency doesn't provide transportation services directly, they will be able to give assistance for finding help. Contact the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. for more information
Many communities have also developed The National Transit Hotline that provides the names of local transit providers who receive federal money to provide transportation to the elderly and people with disabilities. Call Toll Free 1-800-527-8279.