Helping Senior Loved Ones Get Around…With or Without You

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Updated 7/13/17 2:45pm | Many Alert1 senior caregivers have concerns about aging loved ones getting from point A to point B. For that reason, family caregivers are the primary source of transportation for their seniors.

Understandably, caregivers worry about what will happen if/when they cannot be there to provide transportation. Senior transportation related accidents could happen on a routine errand such as going grocery shopping or attending exercise class.

For me, a greater concern is seniors driving during the winter months. The cold weather makes it harder for some seniors to get around and the risk of falling is higher.

Thankfully, a number of aging in place resources for seniors can make sure that your loved one always has transportation.

Public Transportation

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Depending upon your loved one’s needs, this may be a reliable, reasonably priced option for them. Public buses, trains, and light rails typically run all day/week long. If your loved one will be using public transportation, it would be a good idea to spend time reviewing the transit schedule with them on a regular basis.

This will help keep your loved one familiar with the procedure. The big drawback with relying on public transportation is that your loved one will need to get themselves to the station. Door-to-door service is not available and your loved one should not count on receiving help in and out of the vehicle or with any packages.

Paratransit

This may also be referred to as “specialized transportation services”, “health rides”, or something similar in your area. It is a door-to-door service designed for individuals who are not able to use public transportation on their own. Drivers are typically willing and able to help riders in and out of the vehicle, as well as assist them with packages.

Rides are reasonably priced because the service is often subsidized by the state and some services offer punch cards, so you can pre-pay. Rides typically have to be scheduled in advance, so this is not a good option for last minutes rides or same-day service.

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Personalized driver services

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Taxi cabs, shuttle buses, and private vehicles can all be scheduled “last minute”. That makes them a good option for unforeseen trips requiring door-to-door service. Drivers are often willing and able to help riders in and out of the vehicle, as well as assist them with packages. Unlike paratransit, though, this private service may not be reasonably priced for a senior citizen on a fixed income.

Family and friends

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It is always a good idea to have a caregiver support network in place. You may want to reach out to other family members who live in the local area. Even if they are not participating in routine caregiving, they may be happy to commit to semi-regular trips to the store or doctor, as well as be on-call to help out in a pinch.

Carpooling is a good option, too. For that you may want to reach out to your loved one’s neighbors or friends. You may find someone who frequents the same senior center or goes to the same doctor that would be happy to give your loved one a ride and would be glad to have the company.

Walking

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This option depends heavily on your loved one’s mobility, their willingness, their relative location to the places they frequent, and the climate they live in. Walking is a great way to get seniors active and exercise.

However, if your loved one is in good health (with a doctor’s approval), lives in a moderate climate, and is within reasonable walking distance of one (or more) of their favorite hot spots, walking might be a good option. A short walk to the senior center might be just what they need to get some fresh air and enjoy some good company.

Your city’s website, your state’s DMV website, and the Eldercare Locator would be good places to start evaluating transportation options for your loved one. You may also want to consider purchasing a senior medical alert system for your loved one; keep help at their fingertips 24/7.

Alert1 wants to know: how do you help your loved one get around when you can’t be there? What community resources have been the most valuable to you?

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