Transportation

Transportation

Access to adequate transportation is often the major factor that allows seniors to live independently at home. It is the connection to vital activities such as going to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and visiting family and friends. It is also the link to recreation, volunteering, employment, and other activities that contribute to quality of life. According to the Administration on Aging, two-thirds of older adults who stop driving say it is because of physical impairments (AoA, 2004a). One-third of older adults who do no drive rely on family and friends for transportation.

Many communities recommend that seniors should evaluate their driving skills about every three years. The AARP driver safety program course is available in most communities. It was specifically designed for motorists ages 50 and older. Its purpose is to help older drivers improve their skills and avoid accidents and traffic violations. Upon completing the eight-hour AARP Driver Safety Program, graduates may be eligible for an automobile insurance premium reduction or discount depending on the state they live in and the insurance company they use.

Transportation Services

The types of transportation available depend upon where you live. Your local Area Agency on Aging is a good place to start your search for such services. In some communities the AAA arranges, monitors, and supports programs that provide transportation for the elderly. If your local agency doesn’t provide such services directly, the staff will give you assistance in locating them. In 2000, assisted transportation through State and Area Agencies on Aging provide 2.7 million trips for persons ages 60 and older (AARP, 2003). Assisted transportation can take several forms detailed here.

Demand response, also referred to as dial-a-ride, provides transportation from one specific location to another. It requires advance reservations and often requires a payment or donation. The door-to-door service provides flexibility, comfort, and the potential for adapting to the needs of each rider. Taxicabs are a common form of demand-response transit services. Transit providers often use the term paratransit to describe demand-response services for riders with disabilities.

Fixed-route and scheduled services transport seniors along an established route with designated stops where riders can board and be dropped off. Reservations are not required because the vehicles stop at predetermined times and locations. Fixed-route services usually require payment of a fare on a per-ride or regular basis. For example, Easy Street, a commuter van service in Connecticut, has more than 200 routes in operation. Monthly fares cover all operating costs for the vehicle, including insurance, maintenance, and fuel.

Ridesharing programsarrange for seniors to be driven to specific destinations with volunteer drivers. There is now a national ridesharing website (http://www.erideshare.com) that is handy for use by people of all ages. For example, these messages were recently posted on the site:

  • Need ride from Washington, DC, to Arlington, Virginia, and back – several days of the week to visit sick relative. Will pay for gas.
  • I live in Denver and am blind and cannot drive. I am requesting a ride to visit a relative in a nursing home in Fort Carson twice a week. Flexible hours.

Seniors who use the eRideShare or other websites, should follow precautions for safety. All eRideShare members, for example, correspond by anonymous e-mail. Senior's e-mail addresses and identification remain private. In addition, the eRideShare’s site includes other safety information.

Escort services provide support for seniors with limited mobility to obtain appointments, and then return them to safety of home. Escort services are great volunteer opportunities for you. You might accompany a senior to a doctor’s appointment or spend the afternoon together running errands.

The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved. www.csa.us