Last week I shared 7 ways to find alternative transportation options for your aging parents if they are no longer driving on their own.
It's not enough to know what the alternatives are for helping your parent get around once they stop driving, it's important to actually TRY OUT the options. This is important step in helping your parents to build confidence with traveling alone, which will help them maintain their independence for as long as possible!
In this episode, I share 5 Tips For TRYING OUT Transportation Options and more about why it is so important to help your parents remain independent with transportation, even when they are no longer driving.
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.
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 to your aging parents so that they can remain independent and continue to live their best life!
As we get started, I want to share a little bit about WHY taking the time to help your parents find driving alternatives that work for them is SO DARN important.
Research shows that older adults who are no longer driving take 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 65% fewer trips to visit family, friends, & church, and 60% fewer shopping trips.
As you can imagine, these changes dramatically affect an older adults health and well-being. Helping your parent to shore up transportation options that are safe and reliable will help them to remain independent and will help you to have reassurance that they are traveling safely.
Plus, you’ll have more time if you’re not asked to drive them to their activities!
So, here are 5 tips for trying out the alternative transportation options I listed in my last episode.
Tip 1 - Help Your Parent Think About Their Own Unique Needs!
As you prepare to try out transportation options, It’s important to help your parent think about their own unique needs.
For example, if they use a motorized scooter or a wheelchair, can the transportation option they are planning to use accommodate them? Is the transportation option affordable? Is it reliable, meaning, will it be there when your parent needs it?
Tip 2 - Help Your Parent Become Familiar With Their Transportation Options!
It’s also really important to spend some time helping your parent get familiar with the transportation options. For example, your aging parent may have never taken Public Transportation before and may feel out of their element, overwhelmed, and intimidated.
Taking a little bit of time to help them get educated and set up on the front end can save you time and resources down the road.
Tip 3 - Attend a Travel Training Courses With Your Public Transportation Program
You might be surprised to hear that public transportation agencies are creating programs that teach older adults and adults with disabilities how to take public transportation independently. This is so cool and warms my heart! These programs are helping people to maintain their independence and stay engaged in the community!
Check with your local public transit agency to see if there’s a travel training course available near you and your aging parents.
Let me give you an example:
I live in Atlanta and MARTA is Atlanta’s Public transportation program. On their website, they have a Travel Training program and they teach older adults and adults with disabilities how to travel independently and safely.
Here's a link to this program so that you have a guide for what to look for in your own community.
Tip 4 - Work With A Mobility Counselor at Your Local Area Agency on Aging!
Many local Area Agencies on aging have mobility counselors or other staff to provide information to older adults and their families on transportation and mobility options in their community. You can get details on the training programs offered in your parents’ community by simply calling your local area agency on aging.
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, see if a Mobility Counselor is available to work with you!! (Don't be shy! That's what they're there for!)
Tip 5 - Help Your Parent Try Out The Transportation Options!
Set aside a few days to try out transportation options with your parent.
If you're a long distance caregiver or if the two of you wouldn't get along doing this exercise together, ask if one of their friends can go with them instead. Who knows? Their friend may want to try out these options, as well.
As you get started, it can help to take note of:
Helping your parent to shore up transportation options that are safe and reliable will help them to remain independent, healthy, and happy as they age and (BONUS!) it'll help you to have reassurance that they are traveling safely. Plus, you’ll have more time if you’re not asked to drive them around.
For more tips on all things aging parents and driving, download my free Caring for Aging Parents Roadmap to Safe Driving! Simply click on the image below!
Join me next week where I’ll share 10 tips for talking with your aging parent about stopping driving… without pushing them away!
Dr. Regina Koepp
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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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