You thought it would be difficult for your dad to give up his driver’s license. After all, he jokes that he’s been driving since the dawn of time, but he admitted to you that a recent fender-bender caused him to question his skills as a motorist. He also confided that, even though he wears glasses, his vision could be better. So he gave up his driver’s license, on his own terms.
Now, Dad no longer fears he may harm himself or others. Instead, he’s anxious about how he can remain mobile – and so are you. Giving up a driver’s license doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to enter the “shut-in phase” of life. Although they vary from state to state, transportation options are available.
As the National Center on Senior Transportation notes, these ride programs help seniors with mobility limitations to make it to and from their cars; escort cognitively impaired seniors to and from medical appointments; and accompany seniors to grocery stores and help them reach items on high shelves and carry bags.
Home Care Aides
You can hire aides through home care agencies to provide transportation to your parent. Be sure to ask the agency you contract with about whether it uses background checks to screen employees.
For seniors who live in communities with a well-established network of buses, subways and trains, public transportation is a viable option. Unlike assisted transportation or taxis, public transportation doesn’t provide curb-to-curb service or tailored scheduling. However, in most cases, it is the most affordable method of transport – especially since many, if not all, public transportation systems provide discounts to their senior riders.
One of the most convenient transportation options, taxis provide curb-to-curb service that usually doesn’t require advanced scheduling on the part of the rider. If used frequently, the cost may seem prohibitive; however, seniors should also consider the expense of fueling, insuring and maintaining a personal vehicle. To reduce taxi costs, seniors can share rides with family members or neighbors. In some cases, lower-cost vouchers are available for seniors.
Volunteer Driver Programs
According to Eldercare.gov, local faith-based groups and nonprofits “frequently have a network of volunteers who offer flexible transportation for shopping, doctors’ appointments, recreation and other activities. One-way, round-trip and multiple-stop rides are usually available; reservations are needed. These programs are provided free, or on a donation basis, through membership dues or for a minimal cost.”
In 2013, AARP said, “More than 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older don’t drive, according to an analysis of the federal government’s National Household Travel Survey by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Soon, even more people will be clamoring for rides as the country’s 78 million boomers … shed their car keys.”
Losing the freedom associated with driving can result in a variety of issues. You can help your parent stay active after this change in mobility.