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October 3, 2019
Traveling and getting around town can be a challenge for some seniors, especially if you don’t have a car or are unable to drive for any reason. Family and friends aren’t always available to take you where you need to go, and public transportation can be confusing or inaccessible for seniors with mobility issues.
Fortunately, the number of ride sharing services has grown within the last few years, offering an option for rides for seniors. Sometimes the lack of a smartphone or little tech savvy can keep older adults away from these services, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In this post, we’ll explore a few resources for ride sharing.
The first step in signing up with a ride sharing program is to add the app to your smartphone device or tablet. Both apps are free from either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. If you need help with any of these steps, try asking a trusted family member or friend to assist you.
Once the app is downloaded, you’ll be prompted to create an account and customer profile. Then, you’ll need to add a payment method before your first ride. You can use a credit or debit card. If you’re especially tech savvy, you can use electronic payment services like Apple Pay or PayPal. Then, you’re ready to request your first ride.
Type in where you’d like to go, and Uber or Lyft will then assign a driver to pick you up. You will see the driver’s name, and the make and model of the vehicle. The app will notify you when your driver is close by, and it’s best to be outside in a safe and visible location so the driver can find you. After you arrive, there’s no need to tip your driver in cash – all financial transactions are handled directly in the app.
Some services have tailored their offerings specifically for seniors and caregivers who don’t own smartphones, or aren’t as comfortable with the technical aspect of popular ride sharing apps.
UberASSIST vehicles can fit mobility aids such as walkers, wheelchairs and collapsible scooters. Although there are no ramps or lifts, drivers are trained on how to assist those with mobility concerns. The rate is identical to a regular Uber rate with a 10% service fee added.
If you aren’t comfortable using a smartphone or an app to arrange a ride, Go Go Grandparent is a call-in service that can help. With this service, you can call one phone number to schedule an Uber or Lyft. The system will connect you with a driver nearby, and you don’t need an account to set up a ride. Go Go Grandparent charges a concierge fee of $0.27/minute per ride in addition to the vendor’s ride fare.
Although the National Volunteer Transportation Center does not offer transportation itself, it is a resource for over 800 volunteer driver programs nationwide. The operators of these programs tend to provide a higher level of assistance than Uber or Lyft, including waiting for appointments and escorting riders to the door. According to the listings for Rochester, NY, there are 3 local organizations that provide volunteer drivers for those who need it: Catholic Family Center, Lifespan of Greater Rochester and Medical Motor Service of Rochester and Monroe County. Episcopal SeniorLife Communities partners with Lifespan on their “Give a Lift” program, and volunteers drivers are available to transport Neighborhood Program members to and from all programs, as well as to medical appointments, the grocery store, errands and more.”
It would be remiss to not mention that, of course, safety is a priority when using ride sharing services. Remember to check the make and model of the car that is picking you up, license plate and name of the driver. And share your whereabouts with a trusted friend or family member so someone knows where you will be.
Episcopal SeniorLife Communities offers a variety of senior living options and supportive services to ensure you enjoy an environment where you can thrive and have fulfilling, enriching experiences. One way we do this is through our Neighborhood Program transportation service. When volunteers are available, the ESLC Transportation Service will take you to and from programs, as well as to medical appointments, the grocery store, errands and more.