En español | Getting around is essential no matter our age. As we get older, though, many of us may choose to stop driving or, as caregivers, decide it’s best for our parent or loved one to no longer transport him or herself. Because of this, transportation alternatives become essential.
See also: Making the most of community services.
There are a variety of transportation options out there. The trick is figuring out which is the best fit and which your loved one will feel the most comfortable with. Location, cost, convenience (for both the person being cared for as well as the caregiver), frequency and ease of use all become factors in deciding which option is best. To help you get started, here is a breakdown of many of the options.
Friends and Family
Often, the responsibility of transporting loved ones falls on friends and family. For many, this works out to be the most trustworthy and cost-effective solution. For others, however, schedules and distance will make this nearly impossible. Because you and your loved one will know and trust the drivers in this transportation network, this is also the least worrisome option. For those of you who are willing and able to be your loved one’s primary means of transport, be sure to have a back-up option should you get sick or need a break. If you are unable to be the primary transportation option, hiring a safe-driving family member or friend to provide rides on a regular basis will help to share the load while providing them with added income.
Whether the primary mode of transportation or a backup, taxicabs are a convenient way to get your loved one to and from necessary destinations. There are pros and cons, though. The pros of taxi service are that they are almost always readily available and reasonably priced, depending on location. The cons are that drivers usually don’t help passengers into and out of their destinations, will most likely be unknown to the passenger and will not be consistent. Also, if used frequently, fares can add up. Lastly, organizing rides may fall to you, the caregiver, if your loved one isn’t able to or doesn’t like the idea of making the reservations. As with all other services, make sure to go with a reputable company to ensure the safety of your loved one.
Hiring a Private Car Service
If there is a need for transportation on a consistent basis and relying on family and friends is not an option, a car service may be a solution. Contracting with a reputable transportation service to take your loved one on weekly errands may end up being cheaper — and more efficient — than using taxis for every trip. Arrangements can be made in advance, the cost per trip may be lower than using taxis and you might be able to request the same driver each week. They may even be willing to escort your loved one into and out of their home and provide assistance with carrying packages or bags. Be sure to ask local senior services for recommendations so you make arrangements with a reputable company — especially if you plan to have someone entering your loved one’s home.
Residence Transportation Services
Many care facilities provide transportation for their residents. If your parent or loved one is living in any type of care facility, check to see if they offer this service. Many do, which is a great resource for caregivers who either can’t provide regular transportation or need a break. Often, facilities will arrange weekly trips to the grocery store and other destinations, as well as schedule social day trips. Simply check with the front desk of the facility on whether this is an option.
Check with local senior organizations as well as your religious institution to see if they provide volunteer transportation services. Often, churches, synagogues and religious organizations, as well as senior centers, have volunteers at the ready to assist older members of the community with errands, appointments and other necessary trips around town.
Dial-a-Ride, Van Services and Ride Sharing
Many communities provide public ride sharing services, such as Dial-a-Ride, that cater to older adults. Often, these services are run by local transportation companies or nonprofit organizations and can be very useful for getting around town. These vans and buses are unlike taxis and hired transportation services in that they run along specific routes and usually don’t cater to specific requests. Costs for these services vary by service and location. To find a service in your area, check the phonebook or use the Eldercare Locater.
Depending on your loved one’s health, level of comfort and location, public transportation may be an option. This is a convenient way to get around metropolitan areas and is a great option in those areas where it’s safe, easy to follow and convenient. If you think your parent or loved one would take well to public transportation, take him on a few test runs to ensure he’s comfortable and finds his way around easily. Most major public transit systems provide rate information as well as maps on their websites.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), those with disabilities are legally entitled to paratransit, as long as they meet eligibility. A system of buses, vans, cars and trains, paratransit is a public transportation service that caters to those who are unable to use regular public transportation. Those interested — or their caregivers — must contact their local transit provider, which will determine eligibility. For help with determining eligibility, visit the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.
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