Driving services for the elderly are vital for those who no longer drive. Seniors need transportation to the grocery store, medical appointments and meetings with social services and governmental agencies. Transportation options allow them to remain independent in their homes, rather than going to long-term care facilities.
Types of Services
There are three basic types of transportation services for the elderly. Fees for each type will vary, as will the availability.
Fixed route transportation follows an established itinerary. Seniors may board at will, without a reservation. There can be no customized drop-offs or pick-ups, as the stops are predetermined. Discounted fees are usually available for the elderly.
Door-to-Door programs, also called Dial-a-Ride or Demand/Response, are considered the most flexible and most comfortable of the options for driving services for the elderly. This type of service takes a senior from one point directly to another point. Door-to-door requires an advance reservation, and there may be a fee attached.
A popular alternative is ride sharing, where one senior or volunteer driver drives for others. This type of service will usually pick up seniors at a variety of locations to travel to a specific destination, such as a senior center or a grocery store. Fees vary depending on the ride share provider.
Find Driving Services for the Elderly
There are many resources for finding transportation for seniors. Federal, state and local governments have programs and an abundance of information. Nonprofit organizations, churches and social service organizations can also help with finding a program to suit the senior's needs.
National Transit Hotline
The National Transit Hotline maintains a list of providers that receive federal money for offering transportation services for the elderly and disabled. You can call the hotline toll free at 1-800-527-8279.
Area Agency on Aging
Areas Agencies on Aging (AAA) was established in 1973 by the federal government to "respond to the needed of Americans 60 and over." These regional agencies provide information and referrals on a variety of issues, including transportation, to seniors across the country. To find a local AAA, visit the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging website.
State Departments of Aging
Each state also offers transportation programs and information for the elderly. You can find a department of aging in the government pages of the phonebook or you can visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Eldercare Locator and search by zip code, city, or county.
County Departments of Health and Human Services
County governments may also have driving services for the elderly, based on the needs of the residents. Look in the government pages of the phonebook for the county office.
Public transportation usually includes programs for the elderly. This varies by location and agency. To locate a list of public transit systems in your area, visit the Public Transportation Takes Us There website and select your state and county.
Many centers offer pick-up services as well as other transportation programs. They may also connect those interested in ride sharing with drivers.
There are also private companies that supply driving services for seniors. These are fee-based, usually depending on the distance driven. Private driving companies are listed in the phonebook under "Transportation Services."
Tips for Selecting Transportation Services
- When talking to a service provider, it's a good idea to tell them of any disability, special needs or equipment the senior passenger may have. Let them know, for example, if there's a wheelchair or oxygen equipment that will be accompanying the passenger.
- You should always ask about the fee before making a reservation. Always inquire about senior discounts or special programs to reduce the cost.
- When you discuss services with a provider for the first time, consider asking if a friend or family member can go along as moral support for the first trip. The answer may be "no," but you won't know unless you ask.
Independence and self-reliance are important to senior citizens. Driving services for the elderly can greatly enhance their freedom and quality of life.