When we talk about personal transportation for seniors, it is a well-known fact that almost 50% of Americans aged 64 or older don’t have an access to public transportation and more than half of non-drivers aged 65 and older don’t go out simply because they don’t have any transportation options, public or otherwise. People living in rural areas and small towns are affected in particular simply because their transportation options are limited at best.
It is important for seniors to be physically active, more than the rest of the population in order to keep their social independence with friends and family in order to reduce feeling abandoned and lonely, which offers life-prolonging benefits.
In case you or your loved one can no longer drive, there exist state-run personal transportation programs, non-profits and private organizations.
Is it Time to Stop Driving?
For many seniors, the answer to this question is obvious. because of their age, they might be visually impaired to the degree that they have to stop driving.
If you fall in this category or know someone that does, please consider these facts that are related to vision and driving:
- 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 was conducted by the Beverly Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that covered the problems faced by seniors in terms of transportation, which seniordrivers.org summarized 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 for seniors
One type of personal transportation for seniors is Volunteer Driver Programs which are usually faith-based or non-profit and include a network of volunteers that offer transportation services for shopping, recreation, doctor’s appointments and some other needs. This type of personal transportation for seniors requires registration and the cost is minimal and, in some cases, free of charge.
Para-transit Services are types of private agencies that provide transportation services by means of minibuses or minivans for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Door-through-Door Services are a type of private agencies that provide drivers which offer personal assistance that may include wheelchair help, help with bags, etc., all from the passenger’s door to the door of their destination and back again.
Personal Transportation Options for Seniors
A good place to start looking for transportation options and types can be found at your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
Most of the metro areas have several personal transportation options for seniors that vary from mom-and-pop operations to much larger organizations such as the Supplemental Transportation Programs for Seniors (STPs), that are basically grassroots organizations run by staff and volunteers and are funded through grants and donations.
Independent Transportation Network America (ITN) uses paid as well as volunteer drivers to provide its 7 days a week, 24/7 door-to-door service. Their fees include a pick up charge and a mileage charge with a set minimum of $9 per location. This doesn’t include the $40 membership fee.
Assessing a Transportation Provider
Once you start your research into personal transportation for seniors providers, do try to answer the following questions:
- What is the cost?
- How are fees calculated?
- Are there any discounts? E.g., Is my income a factor?
- Is there a membership fee?
- Is a reservation needed? How far in advance?
- Will my insurance pay for rides?
- Are there any requirements to qualify for the service?
- Are the rides for wheelchair users and the disabled?
- Are family members able to serve as an escort? Is there an additional charge?
- Is the service door-to-door or curb-to-curb?
- What is the service area?
- Will the driver assist with bags, wheelchairs, etc.?
- Are rides provided on the weekends, evenings and holidays?
- If others are riding at the same time, what is the maximum time for pick up and drop off?
When it comes to everyone, and especially seniors, maintaining one’s independence is of upmost importance for a healthy and active ageing process and a big part of the ageing process and independence is transportation. If, by some reason, you’re unable to drive, you should consider using a personal transportation option, be it a bigger service like ITN America or a local personal transportation service for seniors.
If you want more tips on how to stay independent, please read our article - “Active Senior Living”
Some additional resources to help you on the way are:
If you want to find a service for personal transportation for seniors, you can do so by choosing your desired senior care location in our search bar and clicking on ‘Home Care’.