How to Get Around After Giving up the Keys
Transportation geared toward older adults and the disabled
Before an older adult has to stop driving, it's a good idea to identify alternative sources of transportation. Consider the following sources, and learn how to access them.
If the person you're caring for is disabled and can't use regular public transportation, he might be eligible for paratransit. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities are entitled to the same access to public transportation as everyone else, adapted as needed. Adaptations include such things as wheelchair lifts and door-to-door service. He must apply for paratransit service. For more information on paratransit, see Paratransit: What is it, and can it help my parents?.
Cost: Paratransit costs the same or sometimes more than regular public transportation. Most agencies have senior discounts.
How to find it: Paratransit is offered through local public transportation agencies. Do an online search with the terms public transportation or bus system plus the name of the person's town. Or try these state-by-state transit-finder tools from the AARP and the American Public Transportation Association.
Tip: Transit agency websites usually have detailed paratransit information, including application forms.
Senior Dial-a-Ride, van, or shared transportation services
An increasing variety of door-to-door van or car pool-type services catering to older adults are available in many communities, operated by local transportation companies or by nonprofit organizations. (Sometimes these are the same services used for paratransit, available to nondisabled people for a fee.) These services may not have as much flexibility as taxis and tend to follow set routes, such as linking riders to the local shopping center, but they can be extremely useful.
Cost: The price of senior transit varies but is likely to be less than a taxi and more than regular public transportation. Some services may charge on a sliding scale.
How to find it: Look in the telephone directory under senior transportation or public transportation. Check online with terms like senior dial-a-ride and senior transit. Also try contacting your Area Agency on Aging. (Find info on your local AAA through Caring.com's local resource directory.) Another option is to contact the government's Eldercare Locator by calling 800-677-1116 (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST).
Tip: Many senior centers have door-to-door service for people using the facility. While this doesn't help with getting around town, it makes it easy for an older adult to visit the center for a class, meal, or social activity.