Getting Around Town When You Can No Longer DrivePosted by Medicare Made Clear
Many people have a hard time getting around town as they get older. There are several reasons for this. They may not be able to drive due to declining health or eyesight. Or they can no longer afford owning a vehicle due to the costs of maintenance or insurance premiums.
If a person has no way to get to their medical appointments, grocery store, social gatherings, or anywhere else they want to go, it can affect their overall well-being.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many transportation options for older adults or people with mobility problems who don’t drive. Walking on busy streets, in freezing temperatures or on crumbling sidewalks can be hazardous. A city bus usually isn’t wheelchair-friendly, and taxi service is often expensive.
There is a strong need for senior-friendly transportation services. According to AARP.org, by 2030, there will be over 72 million people in the U.S. at least 65 years old and 11.5 million age 85 and older.1 Millions of these people won’t be able to drive and will need other ways to get around town.
Many communities have already put in place transportation programs for seniors. These types of programs are called STPs. Each senior transportation program (STP) is different. They may differ in size, whether they use volunteer or paid drivers, and whether they get their funding from private or public sources.
Here are three examples of STPs located in various areas throughout the country.2
Ride Connection, located in Portland, OR, is a volunteer transportation service run for and by older adults. It provides door-to-door transportation for older adults and people with disabilities or immobility with the use of paid and volunteer drivers. The majority of its grant funding is from the Oregon DOT and Tri-Met.
Prairie Hills Transit, located in Spearfish, SD, provides some door-to-door and door-through-door medical and general-purpose trips for seniors. Prairie Hills is funded primarily from State department of transportation (DOT) funds, aging-services money, Medicaid, funds from city and county fare box revenues, and donations and fundraising activities.
West Austin Caregivers, located in Austin, TX, provides assistance for older adults but emphasizes transportation for frail elders. The transportation service is provided by volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles, and the program schedules curb-to-curb, door-to-door, and door-through-door assistance.
These are great resources for seniors that live in the above mentioned cities. Unfortunately, not all cities have senior transportation systems in place — yet. Hopefully, that will change and all communities will have transportation programs in place for seniors.
Check with your local city or county government offices to find out if your community has a transportation program set up for seniors.
Visit AARP.org to learn more about Livable Communities: Getting Around.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
How Old is Too Old? Safety Tips for Drivers Ages 65+: Medicare Made Clear
1 Meeting Transportation Needs in an Aging-Friendly Community, AARP.org, Summer 2009
2 Better Options For Older Adults, by Helen Kerschner and Joan Harris, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Department, April 7, 2011