The Senior Care Transportation Guide: Cost of Transportation for Seniors

Finding transportation options is a major issue for seniors who have had to give up driving. Having alternative means of transportation, whether through a town's senior services or through family and friends, can be tremendously important to a senior's sense of independence.

But, as one senior said to Candace Gould, a licensed mental health counselor for Jewish Family & Children's Services in the Boston area, "I have difficulty getting rides since giving up my car. Friends and relatives are forgetful." Some seniors find that although they are lucky to have friends and family to provide transportation assistance, conflicting schedules mean it's often difficult to make arrangements that work for all involved.

Despite the importance of town-operated transportation services to elders, their availability and cost vary greatly from town to town.

  • Many communities try to meet senior transportation needs in some way -- either through offering vouchers to defray the cost, basing costs on a sliding scale, or by providing some sort of free or minimally priced transportation -- usually a van that will pick up seniors at their home and bring them to a grocery store or senior center. In addition, they offer reduced fares for seniors on regular public transportation.

For seniors who do not have any transportation services in the town where they live, the cost of transportation will depend on their location and the type and frequency of transportation services they require.

  • If the senior needs to hire a home care aide to provide transportation, MetLife in 2007 estimated that the average hourly cost of a home care aide worker was $19 per hour. However, in some states the surveyed rate was as high as $30 per hour and as low as $9 per hour.
  • The costs of taxis and car services also depend on location, with urban areas generally more expensive than rural areas, and with competition among providers in a particular area usually leading to lower prices.

Prior to a move or in anticipation of the need for alternative means of transportation, it may be helpful to assess the availability and cost of town-owned senior transportation services. Seniors should know what to expect in terms of how they will be able to get around town independently, especially if their needs or health suddenly change. Call your local senior center or Eldercare Locator (1-800-677-1116) to learn more about transportation services or vouchers for seniors in your area.

Ronnie Friedland is an editor at Care.com. She had coedited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.

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