Driving is SO important to older adults. It helps them to stay socially connected, helps them to experience independence, it reduces risk of depression and isolation, and so much more. There are so many good reasons that older adults want to drive for as long as possible!
But there will likely come a time in your parent’s life that they are no longer able to drive. And when this happens, one of the best ways to help is to be clear on what types of transportation options are available for your aging parents so that they can remain independent and continue to live their best life!
So in today’s episode, I’ll share...
1. Public Transportation!
Let’s start with the good ole, public transportation. Most major cities offer public transportation like in the form of subways, buses, or cable cars. If your parent plans to use traditional public transportation, they’ll have to be able to understand the route, be familiar with pick up and drop off locations, manage a time schedule, etc.
2. Specialized Public Transportation / Paratransit
Specialized public transportation (or paratransit) is modified public transportation, most typically used by older adults and people with disabilities.
Let me explain. I live in Atlanta. Our public transportation program is called MARTA. For older adults and people with disabilities, MARTA has a program called Marta Mobility.
This specialty public transportation is slightly more expensive than traditional public transportation, but they go door to door. Meaning that they will pick up an older adult at their home and drop them off at their destination (like a medical center, for example). With this option, your parent will have to think about how long the ride will take as they will probably not be the only one on the bus or van going door to door.
Look on your local public transportation website to learn about any programs that they have for older adults or people with disabilities. Here's a link to the Marta Mobility website so that you have an example to familiarize you with this type of program.
3. Volunteer Transportation
Volunteer transportation services are one-on-one rides in a volunteer’s car that can be reserved on demand.
So how do you go about finding volunteer rides? Call your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they know of any local volunteer transportation resources in your parents’ community.
Here's a link to find the Area Agency on Aging closest to your parents. You simply put in your parents’ zip code and call the agencies on the list provided.
Helpful hint! Check out item #7 for more ways to use the Area Agency on Aging for assistance with transportation.
4. Senior Living Communities
If your parent lives in a senior independent or assisted living community, check and see if the community offers transportation? Many independent and assisted living senior communities offer transportation. So, If your aging parent lives in one of these communities or is considering moving to one of these communities, this is an important question to ask.
5. Church or Senior Recreational Groups
Many churches and community senior recreational groups offer transportation. You might think about contacting your parent’s church or local senior recreational center to see if they offer transportation resources.
6. Uber, Lyft or GoGoGrandparent!
You might think of having your parent use services like Uber or Lyft,. Now there’s a special program for older adults called GoGoGrandparent, which is a service that you you can add on to your Uber or Lyft ride. GoGoGrandparent keep you notified of your parents whereabouts with text messages.
You can learn more about GoGoGrandparent, on their website, which I’ll link to in my show notes. I am not at all affiliated with them, just think they have a cool service. Let me tell you about GoGo grandparent’s story, which I got from their ABOUT page on their website.
7. Area Agency on Aging (ask for a Mobility Counselor)
You’ve heard me say it before and i’ll say it again and again! Your local Area Agency on Aging is the best “go to” resource for services related to aging and older adult.
Here's a link to find the Area Agency on Aging closest to your parents.
You simply put in your parents’ zip code and call the agencies on the list provided. When you call them, ask them about local transportation alternatives for your aging parents!
I've heard that some Area Agencies on Aging have Mobility Counselors! When you call them, see if a Mobility Counselor is available to work with you!! (Don't be shy! That's what they're there for!)
Driving is a hot topic for families, so I created a free Caring for Aging Parents Roadmap to Safe Driving that you can download for free by clicking here or the image below!
I’ll see you in the next video where I’ll talk with you about how to try out the alternative transportation options and why it’s so important to help your parents maintain independence with transportation, even if they are no longer driving.
Lots of love to you and your family!
Dr. Regina Koepp
PS: If this episode/blog was helpful...
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I'm a Stanford trained, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist specializing with older adults and families! I'm an Assistant Professor at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and a staff Psychologist at the Atlanta VA Health Care System. I'm a mom of two little kids and a daughter to aging parents.
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