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The Senior Care Transportation Guide: Exploring Transportation Options

Discover what transportation options are available and at what cost.

Image via Stocksy.com/Joselito Briones

Giving up driving means giving up independence. No matter how much you want your sensory-challenged loved one to hand over the keys, understand that their emotional well-being depends on being able to get around. Finding one or more alternative transportation options is essential. Fortunately, in cities and towns of all sizes, there are alternatives to driving.
 

Here are some possibilities:

  • Family members can volunteer to drive a senior relative as needed. The advantage here is that you know all the care providers, and hopefully like them and trust their driving. If only one or two family drivers have the flexibility to chauffeur Mom or Dad during the day, perhaps others could contribute gas money or offer to do errands for the designated driver.

    Cost: Free
     
  • Volunteers from religious organizations may be available to drive seniors to doctors’ appointments, or take them shopping, or to an event. Contact churches, synagogues and organizations like Jewish Family & Children's Services, Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services. At the very least, some individual congregations have vans to bring congregants who don’t drive to worship services.

    Cost: Minimal, usually a contribution to defray costs.
     
  • Taxis and ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft might be an occasional choice. Taxis are licensed; ridesharing services may or may not be, depending on the market.

    Cost: Varies widely based on geographic location and service used. A 1.5 mile cab ride in Manhattan will cost approximately $15, while the same fare in Jacksonville, Florida will get you more than twice as far. Ridesharing options tend to be cheaper than taxis.
     
  • Senior vans or buses often service specific senior living facilities, but some such services draw riders from the community at large. Call your Area Agency on Aging for information about senior transport services. These vehicles stop at seniors' homes and take them to the grocery store or shopping center or medical facilities. The vans have a planned route based on set stops and are often slow and inflexible. However they do offer seniors a way to get out and an opportunity to socialize with others in the bus.

    Cost: Under $10, usually $2.50 to $5.
     
  • Public transportation is always an option. Local transportation systems usually offer some sort of senior discount fares or coupons and many regular route buses are equipped for wheelchairs. Paratransit buses, in cities where they exist, can be scheduled in advance for transport to and from most locations in the system service area. The small buses used can accommodate wheelchairs as well as mobility scooters, and some will allow passengers to bring along a non-disabled companion.

    Cost: Varies, depending on the system. A paratransit bus ride in Metairie, La. costs $3 for a one-way trip.
     
  • Companions and home care aides may be willing to chauffeur as part of their duties. You can hire aides through local home care agencies, as well as caregivers who specifically offer transportation services. Check to make sure that the agency you contract with runs background checks and carefully screens employees.

    Cost: The U.S. average cost for a home health aide is $18 an hour.
     
  • You can always hire a private individual to provide transportation for your loved one. Many are listed on Care.com, which will also do basic and extended background checks.

    Cost: Varies depending on market and frequency, but a range would be $14 to $22 an hour.
     

It’s important to know all your options before committing to a particular service or mode of transportation. Consult your loved one, who may strongly prefer one option over another. Don’t assume that family members will always be able to pick up the slack, and don’t rule out public and non-profit options. Contact Eldercare Locator for information and options specific to your community.

Ronnie Friedland has coedited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.

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