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Transportation Options For Seniors Who No Longer Drive

Transportation Options for Seniors Who No Longer Drive

Did you know that every year, more than a half-million older adults stop driving? While the number itself is impressive, it goes far beyond a statistic.

We all enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom throughout our lives and from a very young age it becomes second nature. We generally take it for granted that we can come and go as we please and getting there often happens behind the wheel of a car.

Consider how many times a day, virtually every day of the year, you fire up your car and buzz off to the grocery store, children’s school events, your job, social gatherings, and a host of other destinations.

Indeed, driving is a significant representation of independence for most of our lives. Now imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have that option; if routine outings become more of a challenge than an enjoyable part of the day.

That scenario is reality for a large percentage of America’s elderly population, for a variety of reasons.

Often times, deteriorating health affects our ability to safely drive a vehicle but even then, it can be difficult for some seniors to let go of the keys. In addition to the independence, driving becomes part of who we are and allows us to continue familiar habits and go places that have been important to us for decades.

Freedom to move about is a big part of life and letting it go can be a serious blow to older adults.

They lose their ability to head out and meet friends for coffee, take in a community music festival, maintain regular doctor visits, and much more. It can also lead to loneliness, increased sense of isolation, and health issues.

To retain a semblance of comfort and familiar routine, many seniors turn to family and while it might work well for a while, the burden can soon wear on a family dynamic.

Even loving family members don’t always have the wherewithal to take time away from their jobs every time their elderly parent needs a ride somewhere. And transportation often makes up the biggest responsibility in a family caregiving scenario.

In fact, a study by the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center shows that roughly 40 percent of family members spend at least five hours every week providing or arranging transportation.

But what happens when a family member, no matter how dedicated, simply can’t make it to provide a ride?

Transportation options for seniors

Identifying and arranging transportation options for an elderly loved one requires diligent research in order to weave in a new and beneficial life dynamic. Details to consider include:

  • Urban or rural location
  • Specific medical needs
  • Available funds for transportation
  • Insurance coverage options

Remember that making the change from driving independently to relying on other options demands a significant mental transition and a caregiver can help by focusing on the positives that can help a loved one maintain their independence and pride.

When a family member is unavailable to provide transportation, the best options typically lie with an array of public options. The good news is most every sizable metro area offers plenty of choices, from bus lines to light rail to on-demand services such as Uber. Seniors living in rural areas have fewer options but can usually count on pre-booked or volunteer organizations.

Here are some of the most reliable and common transportation options for older adults who no longer drive:

Public transportation

The most prevalent among public transport options include bus and rail lines with set routes and daily schedules. Seniors can typically take advantage of fare discounts and some transit providers offer additional help “teaching” older adults how to safely access and travel on public options.

Paratransit

If your loved one cannot use public transportation due to health reasons, paratransit operations offer similar choices as traditional public transit. Seniors using paratransit often ride on specially equipped vans for easier accessibility.

On-demand services

Shared ride services and “ride-hail” options including Uber and Lyft are excellent options for seniors and some Uber/Lyft vehicles provide wheelchair assistance and drivers trained in accommodating seniors who need extra help.

Nonprofit options

Many communities include nonprofit charities and/or religious groups that provide volunteer ride services for seniors. Some rides are private while others are shared with groups. Keep in mind that reservations are usually required and schedules vary.

Private transportation

While costlier, private transportation option for seniors can be a great help. Taxi services are the most common and excellent choices for seniors in outlying areas or that need personal assistance. Private transit’s greatest benefit, of course, is the flexibility to arrange a ride whenever it is needed.

Working with a caregiver like Family Matters In-Home Care

As part of an overall care plan, our caregivers provide safe and reliable transportation for your loved one so they can still get out to run errands, go to appointments, visit friends and family, and enjoy their regular social activities.

Our caregivers don’t simply pick clients up and drop them off. Instead, they are there to help your loved one get ready, help them into the car, and accompany them while providing any necessary assistance at their destination. Our caregivers that provide transportation services are licensed and insured, and have been screened through a DMV report to verify a safe driving record.

Planning ahead

Public, private, and community transportation services offer the most choices for seniors today but whatever the option, it’s important to research each and arrange a service that best meets the needs of your loved one.

Public, private, and community transportation services offer the most choices for seniors today but whatever the option, it’s important to research each and arrange a service that best meets the needs of your loved one.

Other Helpful Resources


If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater San Diego, and now Oregon, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices in Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CASan Mateo, CA, and Portland, OR.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.