When Seniors Do not Drive


Lack of transportation is one of the biggest hurdles faced by aging Americans at home. With the exception of New York City, Chicago, Boston, and a few other large cities here and there, public transportation for seniors is usually inconvenient or non-existent. Not being able to go where we want, when we want is one of the biggest losses we encounter as we age in America.

If your elder lives in an area with good public transportation, one of the first resources you will want to investigate is whether there is a door-to-door service for the elderly and handicapped. If your elder is beginning to "need a little help," he or she is probably not going to be able to walk half a mile to a bus stop in the summer heat, winter cold, or driving rain. Carrying groceries or other items to and from a bus is simply not practical.

Call the public transportation department where your elder lives and inquire about whether such a service exists, and about the enrollment process. Because people do tend to try to take advantage of door-to-door transportation services, some cities will require documentation from a physician, or even an interview.

Public transportation, even door-to-door service, is not always convenient because it often must be arranged as far as 48 to 72 hours in advance.

Your elder's community may also have a volunteer driver program. Many of our suburbs are realizing that their residents are aging, and they are sponsoring volunteer transportation programs. Your closest senior center will have information about any such programs. These drivers will also work to a schedule that has to be arranged in advance.

Taxi services are always a good and more spontaneous alternative to public senior transportation for seniors who do not live in rural areas. If you consider the cost of gas, registration, insurance, and car maintenance, the cost of a taxi is not much more expensive than driving a personal car. Many seniors are not able to make the cost comparison when it's time to pay a taxi driver, however. They will be appalled at the price if they must pay cash for every ride. A practical alternative is to set up an account with a local taxi company and have your elder simply sign a ride ticket. The taxi company will add the driver's tip and bill a credit card, or mail an invoice, on a regular basis.

Seniors who live in rural communities without access to transportation are often forced to move simply because they have no way to get around. If your elder lives in a rural area and transportation is or will be a big problem, it's best to face this fact head on and early, and begin looking for residential alternatives. Waiting until you are faced with a crisis means there will be fewer alternatives.

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Source by Molly Shomer