Learning to Live Independently without driving
In the hustle and bustle of today’s society we often take for granted the luxury of driving to transport us to social activities and appointments. Yes, I did say, luxury. However, many seniors who are aging often lose the ability to drive and must depend upon their caregivers for transportation for daily activities such as going to the grocery store, a doctor’s visit, or to visit their places of worship. Lack of transportation can be a frustrating experience and more importantly it can further isolate seniors from their communities and friends. There are numerous factors that impact the lack of transportation available to seniors such as losing the ability to drive, , limited public transportation options, particularly in suburbs where most seniors live, and lack of convenience or escorts to support senior needs. I recall when my father, diagnosed with dementia with lewey-bodies, was no longer allowed to drive. He still had doctor’s appointments, an adult day care program, church, and social engagements with friends and family members. This change not only affected his world but his children’s as well. We learned to adjust and modify our lives in an effort to ensure his quality of life, with the help of supportive organizations and services geared to the elderly.
My brother was my Dad’s primary caregiver; he had limited assistance from his out of town siblings and the support of hired caregivers. While my brother worked, my dad was transported by a senior community vanpool to adult day care three days a week and the remaining days he had an in-home caregiver. The driver of his van was a kind person who always paid great attention to my Dad and took strides to ensure his comfort and safety while on the van and in his care. On days that he did not attend adult daycare, his caregiver would drive him to the mall and on social outings and my brother would take time off from his job to drive him to doctor appointments. On weekends, he would drive him to visit with family and friend visits, a dear friend would take him to church services. Planning his transportation was challenging and required research, careful coordination, and external resources and support. Recognizing the link between independence and the ability to transport oneself freely, it is no wonder my father was so reluctant to turn over his keys to his children when it was deemed unsafe for him to drive. He recognized even with his dementia that his life would change drastically. Subconsciously, he must have known how difficult it would be to navigate without his own personal transportation.
To support you on your transportation journey, listed below are tips we learned that may be useful for you and your aging parent:
If your parent is capable of traveling independently, a local cab service or Uber may be a viable option for physician visits. You can download the Uber app, attach a credit card to the membership, and have access to relatively inexpensive and reliable car service.
Grocery Delivery Service
Many local grocery stores offer grocery delivery services, the list is usually completed online and the groceries are delivered. This service is also a thoughtful gift from friends and family members.
Adult day care programs
Many Adult Day Care programs provide one-way or roundtrip transportation services to their facilities.
National Senior Organizations (these organizations may provide information or offer transportation services)
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
- National Center on Senior Transportation
- Rides for Seniors
- Elder Helpers
- Community Transportation Association of America
*Contact the local affiliate in your community to obtain details on transportation services*
Community Based Programs in Washington, DC
A number of local senior community programs provide transportation to seniors through volunteer programs, please research local senior community programs in your area for additional details. A few are highlighted below:
- Seabury Connector—Shared rides for DC seniors age 60+ to and from medical and public benefits appointments. The cost is free and reservations can be obtained by contacting 202-727-7771.
- Call ‘N’ Ride–A taxi voucher program for District residents age 60 and above for cab rides within the District of Columbia. Vouchers are provided at discounted rates depending upon one’s income. For additional information contact the Seabury Connector Service Center at 202-727-7771
Home Care Organizations
CaringGivers provides dedicated transportation services for doctor office visits, grocery shopping, errands, and social activities. For additional information please contact us at 202-379-6547.