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Senior Transportation Services and Caregiving

What’s the difference between a ride sharing service and home care?

Transportation needs and options change over time, and there are more choices than ever for yourself or a loved one who doesn’t drive. At some point, your parents may not be able to safely drive themselves to where they need to go and you may not be available to be their only ride. Taking away the keys to their vehicle can be a difficult conversation to have, but bringing your research into the alternatives for them can help to ease them into this life transition.

Having a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way to get around is important for those who might otherwise feel socially isolated from critical relationships.

Senior Transportation with Home Care Services

Home care agencies cannot provide just transportation services for their clients. While this is in large part due to legalities, there are benefits to combining these services and not just signing up for rides only.

When a senior needs a ride, they often also need help with other daily activities too. Consider these scenarios:

  1. A person has an appointment with a physical therapist as they recover from a surgery or other injury. A taxi or ride share service such as Uber can pick them up at an appointed time, but how are they going to get ready for this ride if they are injured or healing? A professionally-trained caregiver can arrive prior to the departure time to assist with bathing (or showering), dressing, meal preparation, and medication reminders. They can also accompany this individual to their appointment to get important care notes and then return them safely home after the physical therapy.
  2. An elder who needs to go to the grocery store has choices: they can shop online and schedule delivery or take the bus or hire a ride. However, think about all of the other tasks associated with this basic need to buy food: do they have reliable computer access to shop online? Are they comfortable with a delivery person? For many people, there is joy and meaning in going out to shop for their own items so assuming they want to go in person to shop, how do they get the groceries home and put away? A caregiver can assist with meal planning and food preparation as well as be a companion to dine with.
  3. Time with friends is important in life and being able to sit in the park, play cards, meet for a swim lesson, or other favorite activity can have excellent mental health benefits. Just getting dropped off at a pool, park, or friend’s home is okay, but having a caregiver join you can bring new energy and fun as well as not having to rely on friends for things like getting an assistive device such as a wheelchair in and out of the car.

There are many other situations in which completing a journey to and from home can involve many additional tasks in between so a reliable caregiver can make a huge difference.

Assisted Living and Transportation for Seniors

When someone moves into a facility but still likes to get out to go to church, see a hairdresser, or other familiar engagements, they will need a ride. Typically, these rides require advance reservations and planning and there is limited staff available to drive residents from place to place if there are multiple requests from the many residents on site.

Private professional caregivers can provide additional care to those who don’t live completely independently with many of the same services to someone who lives in a private home. A caregiver can provide transportation for seniors who live in a facility and are clients of the agency for other reasons, including assistance with bathing and grooming.

It is common to have overlap in long-term care services like this, with in-home care and facility-based care working alongside one another to prevent any gaps in care for an individual.

Beyond Typical Taxis for Senior Transportation

Buses and taxis have long been the go-to for public transportation, but now there are many choices. Today there are options that cater specifically to people who are age 65 and older, which might be available in your area:

SilverRide is similar to Uber in which seniors can sign up for one-time rides with drivers prepared to assist someone who needs extra care. Using this service does require online access to schedule a reservation. This is not available in all areas.

GoGoGrandparent partners with several companies, including Uber and DoorDash, to provide rides and deliveries. Reservations can be made with a phone call and there are monthly pricing packages. Check to see if it’s available near you.

Uber Assist and Uber Health are extensions of the basic Uber services with a focus on those who live with mobility issues. These services include “certified drivers” who are able to handle assistive devices such as wheelchairs before and after the ride.

There may be volunteer senior transportation services available in your area or some places frequented by seniors may have plans in place such a van for church members. However, personal preferences and abilities are important when selecting a ride for someone who is living with a chronic condition or changes in mobility.

More Than Rides

The American Hospital Association’s “Transportation and the Role of Hospitals” report found that “transportation can be a vehicle to wellness,” for all ages and that “Transportation barriers can affect a person’s access to health care services. These barriers may result in missed or delayed health care appointments, increased health expenditures and overall poorer health outcomes.”

The National Caregivers Library states, “Currently, there are about 8.4 million senior citizens who depend on others for their transportation. Shortly, the number of older drivers will more than double, making the issue of senior transportation even more critical. In fact, according to the Administration on Aging, by the year 2030 the number of drivers over age 85 will be 4–5 times what it is today. Because America’s roads and automobiles are not designed for the existing elderly population—and because the skills and abilities associated with driving tend to diminish with age—viable alternate forms of transportation for the elderly will continue to be an important issue for years to come.”

Connect with you elder loved one to determine what their senior transportation service preferences are and do research on what is available to meet these needs as they age and options change.

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