Many of us do not think twice about getting in our car and driving wherever we need to go. However, as we start to get older, most of us will struggle to drive safely. For many elderly people, getting to the grocery store, social gatherings and medical appointments can be extremely challenging once they lose their ability to drive. This can lead to social isolation and depression.
Unfortunately, many older people are reluctant to give up driving despite any concerns they might have about their ability to safely do so. In fact, the Community Transportation Association Of America has predicted that elderly traffic fatalities in the United States will triple by 2030. However, giving up driving can also have a negative impact; many older individuals who can no longer drive have been shown in studies to visit friends and family less frequently and attend fewer medical appointments than people their same age who do drive(1).
Things To Look For In A Senior Transportation Service
One of the best ways to allow seniors to maintain a sense of independence and their connection with the outside world is arranging for senior transportation services. This can allow them to get around without feeling like they are inconveniencing anyone, and it may even give them new opportunities for socialization, whether they are having conversations with drivers offering an individual service or meeting other seniors while using group transportation services.
If you are considering a senior transportation service for your elderly loved one, here is what you should look for.
The Type of Services Offered
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether private or group services will work best for your loved one. The most basic form of private transportation for elderly people is a taxi service, but this tends to work best for seniors who live in an area with good taxi service and only require occasional travel with minimal extra assistance. However, this can be expensive when it is used on a more frequent basis.
Another option is arranging for group rides. Some senior transportation services have regular schedules with weekly visits to common points of interest for older people, such as shopping centers, medical centers, and other locations. These tend to be fixed and can be more affordable than private options, and some seniors like the predictability of going to places at the same time and day each week. It may also present the opportunity to meet and bond with others their age.
Many faith-based volunteer and charitable organizations offer seniors individual private ride services at a low or no cost. These rides typically need to be arranged well in advance but are a good option for those who are looking to save money.
Be sure to choose a senior transportation service that has wait times and pick-up and drop-off points that will work for your loved one.
Medical Assistance Options
For senior citizens who rely on walking aids or wheelchairs and those who need medical equipment while in transit, such as oxygen tanks, you will need to find a senior transportation service that can accommodate these needs. If your loved one will need help getting into and out of the vehicle, make sure the service you are considering is willing to provide this type of individualized assistance.
The Cost Of Services
Budget is a concern for many older people, so you should ensure that the cost of the transportation service you choose will be sustainable in the long run. There are many free and discounted services available to seniors, although they may lack some of the flexibility that more expensive options offer.
Charities and faith-based organizations often provide volunteer transportation programs where a volunteer driver will pick up and drop off the senior citizen upon request. There may be limitations on distance, the number of trips per week and how far in advance rides can be arranged. However, many people who volunteer for such services are conversational, and some seniors appreciate the personal nature of these journeys.
Driver Training And Safety
You will want to choose a senior transportation service that has vetted its drivers carefully to ensure that they have a good driving safety record and have passed background and drug testing. Ensure that the service has the proper insurance in place for its drivers and vehicles and that their vehicles are comfortable, clean and well-kept.
Another safety concern right now is COVID-19. You want to choose a senior transportation service that takes this threat seriously and is taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as sanitizing the vehicle between trips, ensuring passengers and drivers can be kept at a safe distance, and requiring the use of masks while inside the vehicle.
Get In Touch With SCNOVA For Senior Transportation Service
Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia offers a friendly team of trained and vetted volunteers to provide transportation services that are free of charge to adults aged 50 and over within the service area, including transportation for errands, medical appointments and food pickup and delivery. Get in touch today to learn more about how our services can help your loved o