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Transportation Needs for Caregivers and Their Loved Ones

Expert Elinor Ginzler talks about resources you can use

Caregiving Resource Center

Caregiving Resource Center

Resources, tools and tips to help you manage the care of a loved one.

Comment from Sandy: My dad has always been fiercely independent. Driving has been his favorite thing to do for many, many years. Unfortunately, his eyes have begun to fail, and it is very evident that driving is becoming difficult for him. I know that it is time to talk to him about not driving, but I am afraid that he will become angry or depressed and just flat out refuse to stop. What should I do?

Elinor Ginzler: This is one of the most difficult conversations that families face. Good for you for recognizing that it is time to talk and for realizing that you need some help to be sure it goes well. The good news is that AARP can help. We Need to Talk (aarp.org/weneedtotalk) offers a terrific set of modules that take you through all the steps of how to talk to a family member about not driving. Check it out and get tips and techniques for this important conversation. You'll be glad you did.

Comment from Molly: How common are at-home services? By that I mean in rural areas how can I get a physical therapist to come to my mom's house?

Elinor Ginzler: Many community services, especially in rural areas, realize that to treat older patients who no longer drive, the services have to go where the patients live. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and even skilled nursing services can be provided in the home and covered by Medicare if the person is not able to leave their house. And telemedicine — using computers and technology to virtually consult with patients from their homes — is becoming more and more commonplace.

Comment From Dan: How do I find out the background of the driver who takes my dad to his doctors' appointments?

Elinor Ginzler: It is really important to be sure that the folks driving your folks are legitimate. If the driver is from a driving agency, ask them if they conduct background checks on their employees. If they don't, find another agency. If you've hired this driver independently, you can check with your state motor vehicles department on his driving record.

Comment from maccascruff: My parents are now in independent living. Their car is gone. It was my dad's decision. How do we get him to consider using the shuttle bus the facility provides so he can run his errands, such as grocery shopping? He is adamant that he will not use it. This makes it very difficult for my sister and me because he has to go on a certain day at a certain time.

Elinor Ginzler: It is hard to transition from the independence of driving your own car any time you want to relying on a shuttle bus. One idea may be to speak to other residents who use the shuttle bus. They may be helpful in convincing him to give it a try. Also, try talking to the residence staff to find someone to help with this, and be patient.

Comment from Chuck: How do I learn to use the bus in my town? I've never used it before and am afraid to ask the city.

Elinor Ginzler: It's never too late to learn new things. Many communities now offer travel training that teaches people all about the public transit in their cities. The training is done in a classroom and also includes a group excursion. Montgomery County, Md. offers Ride Smart travel training through its Connect-A-Ride program. It's just one example of how communities are helping people learn to use transit. Good luck!

Comment from Rachel: Are there any funds to help pay for the cost of getting an accessible van?

Elinor Ginzler: I am aware that the Veterans Benefits Administration will help with the financial end of equipping a van for accessibility. You might ask your motor vehicle administration about other funding sources.

AARP: Thank you for participating in today's chat with independent living expert Elinor Ginzler. Continue the discussion on our Discussions Boards in our online community. And, as always, you can find online caregiving resources in our Caregiving Resource Center or call our free Caregiving Support Line at 877-333-5885 to find services and support groups, both nationally and locally.

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