En español | About 600,000 older adults stop driving each year, according to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).
That can make it harder for aging or ill loved ones to make doctor’s appointments, shop for necessities, visit family or attend social events. And that increases their isolation, negatively affecting their health and well-being.
Transportation can become one of the biggest responsibilities for family caregivers. About 40 percent of caregivers spend at least five hours a week providing or arranging transport, according to a 2018 survey from the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC), a program administered by n4a and Easterseals that promotes accessible transit.
Providing transportation is not always easy or convenient. “Some family caregivers just can’t leave their job every time somebody needs a ride to the doctor, much less even to the grocery store,” says Virginia Dize, an n4a program director and codirector of the NADTC.
Finding alternatives for times you can’t get your loved one where they need to go likely will require some research. But a variety of options are available that can lessen the burden on caregivers and help older and disabled people keep appointments and stay socially connected.
When you can’t provide a ride
The types of transit available differ widely from location to location, as do opportunities for specialized or discount service.
Metropolitan areas tend to be transportation-rich, with public bus, rail or trolley lines and various commercial options. In small towns and rural regions, you might have to rely on prebooked “demand response” services or volunteer organizations.
In a joint publication on transportation options, NADTC and Eldercare Locator, a federal directory of local services for seniors, list several programs and services geared in varying degrees to helping older and disabled people get around. Remember that not all of these options are available everywhere, but your area is likely to feature at least some.
Primarily bus and rail services, operated and financed by federal, state and local governments, with fixed routes and set schedules, these systems usually offer discounted fares for older adults and people with disabilities. Vouchers may be available as well.
Some transit agencies and local aging or disability organizations provide free training to help riders learn to travel safely. Buses, railcars and stations usually will have accessibility features, but public transit might not be a suitable alternative for people who will have difficulty navigating stairs, waiting outside or walking to and from stops.
Public transit agencies are required by law to provide “complementary paratransit service” for people who are unable to use regular lines. Paratransit operates during the same hours as normal service and covers comparable routes.
Riders must meet eligibility criteria set out in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Vehicles typically are vans outfitted for accessibility.
Trips should be scheduled at least a day in advance and generally are shared with other passengers who have booked similar times. Paratransit providers typically have a 30-minute pickup window, from 15 minutes before
GoGoGrandparent turns on demand transportation, like Lyft or Uber, into services that can be accessed and monitored without a smartphone.
If you or your loved one is no longer able to drive, there are personal transportation options through states programs, non-profits and private businesses. An example of a great option for senior transportation is Gogograndparent. They offer a convenient and affordable solution for seniors to get around. The safe transportation of seniors is very important, which is why Gogograndparent is one of our favorite services.
Did you know that one-half of Americans 65 and older do not have access to public transportation? And that more than half of all non-drivers 65 and older stay at home in a given day because they don’t have transportation options. Those in rural areas and small towns are particularly affected because the transportation options are limited.
But it’s important for seniors to remain mobile to keep their social independence with friends and family; to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and many other life-prolonging benefits.
In This Article:
Common Transportation Options ↓ Medical Transportation Options ↓ Paying For Transportation ↓ Long Distance Transportation ↓ Moving ↓ Tools and Apps for Senior Transportation ↓
Is it Time to Stop Driving?
For some seniors the answer is obvious. They may be too visually impaired to continue driving. Just consider these vision and driving facts:
Vision provides about 85% of information we need to make safe decisions when driving.
A 60-year-old requires 10 times as much light to drive as a 19-year-old.
A 55-year-old takes eight times longer to recover from glare than a 16-year-old.
Older drivers can take twice as long to distinguish the flash of brake lights as younger drivers.
A study of the problems seniors face with transportation was conducted by the Beverly Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Seniordrivers.org summarized their findings with the following themes:
Seniors continue driving “as long as possible because they are unaware of, or do not believe they have, alternative means of transportation.”
Seniors “limit their driving or stop driving altogether because of functional difficulties.”
“By the time they stop driving, many older adults are so disabled that they are unable to use most public and para-transit systems.”
“Next to health, transportation is the most important issue for seniors.”
Types of Personal Transportation
Volunteer Driver Programs are usually faith-based or nonprofits with a network of volunteers who offer transportation to for shopping, recreation, doctor’s appointments and other needs. Reservations are required. Cost is minimal and sometimes free.
Para-transit Service: Private agencies provide transportation using minibuses or small vans to the elderly or those with disabilities.
Door-through-Door Service: Private agencies provide drivers who offer personal assistance (wheelchair help, help with bags, etc.) through a passenger’s door and on through the door of their destination and back.
As people age, it inevitably becomes harder to get around independently. This is especially the case if medical issues requiring special attention are involved. The good news is, there are actually plenty of ways for seniors to travel locally, nationally, and internationally.
First and foremost, elders who no longer feel comfortable driving or cannot drive at all can rely on family members like their children to transport them wherever they need to go. If family isn’t around though, there are still plenty of other options for transportation. Some examples include public transportation, paratransit programs, volunteer services, and senior shuttles, to name a few. Depending on the community an older individual lives in, there may be taxi voucher programs available too.
Expert Insight on Senior Mobility
Is It Time to Stop Driving?
It goes without saying that driving helps everyone stay mobile and independent. However, visual impairment is a common and inevitable issue among seniors — and this issue often causes motor vehicle accidents. Without good vision, it is a challenge to make safe decisions while driving. Night-time driving is an even bigger challenge with limited light. Generally speaking, the elderly take longer to register and distinguish things like flashing brake lights. This could pose a major safety hazard for everyone on the road. Next to health, transportation is the most prevalent issue for older people.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adult drivers on the road pose a big problem.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the population aged 70+ will increase from 31.7 million in 2015 to 53.7 million in 2030. This increase has led to concerns about the potential effects on traffic safety.
Seniors who are still unsure whether it’s time to stop driving may want to consider other options for getting around if they find it a struggle to see the road and drive safely during the day or night.
Common Forms of Transportation for the Elderly
Giving up driving can be a tough lifestyle change, but is often for the best when you are sensory-challenged. Not being able to get around as easily anymore can play a big role in a person’s emotional well-being, so it is important to learn of the transportation alternatives available in towns and cities of all sizes. It is important to know all your options before committing to a particular service or form of transportation. You may want to consult a loved one to get a second opinion. Luckily though, the possibilities are endless — below are just a few common ones to consider.
If possible, having family members take you around is often the best alternative to driving yourself. Chances are, your relatives are already familiar with your routine know where you need to go regularly. Most prefer having people they already know to drive them around because they can trust their driving. Not only is this usually the most convenient alternative, it is also cost and time-efficient. You won’t have to wait for a
Transportation is crucial to ensure access to essential services such as medical care and grocery shopping. 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 care placement. Many older people, who do not drive, must rely on family and friends to provide much of the transportation. But for others, it is necessary to find community resources to provide transportation, as this vital support service may be their only connection to the outside world.
Request Senior Transportation Near You
Transportation services vary in communities depending upon where you live. Types of transportation that may be available for the elderly, is individual door-to-door service, fixed route with scheduled services, or ridesharing with volunteer drivers. A good place to start your search for transportation is your local Area Agency on Aging. In some communities the Area Agency on Aging arrange, monitor, and support programs that provide transportation for the elderly. Even if your local agency doesn’t provide transportation services directly, they should be able to give assistance for finding help.
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 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 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.
As mentioned, fees are usually required for many door-to-door services and on a fee per ride for fixed transportation services but often with senior discounted rates. Many communities have developed volunteer programs with minimal or no cost with the help and support of their local Area on Aging.
The National Transit Hotline can provide 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.