You or your loved one cannot drive anymore – now what?
As important as it is to ensure safety when driving, the consequences of being unable to drive can feel overwhelming–how can I get to my appointments, go grocery shopping, going out to eat? This is especially troubling if there isn’t family available to help, whether that is due to their work schedules or living out of town. No one wants to feel stranded and unable to get the help they need so here are some options.
First, for those who are still able to get around on their own fairly well there is public transportation. While this is probably the most obvious choice for those who cannot drive, it can also be the most overwhelming to figure out. Luckily for those relying on walking aids or wheelchairs, every public bus is required by law to have a wheelchair lift and every train must have one wheelchair accessible railcar. It is a good idea to inquire about the availability of elevators, good lighting, and general safety at the stations. To help make public transportation less daunting, free programs have been developed to “train” senior citizens on the ins and outs. Trainers spend time with the senior, help them practice getting on and off public transit, learn how to calculate costs and find discounts, and plan the best routes and schedules to use. These programs can also supply a mentor to travel with an elderly person until they feel confident enough to do it on their own.
For those who need more assistance there are paratransit services mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Federal law under the ADA guarantees a basic level of transportation service for many senior citizens since under the practical definition, many senior citizens are eligible for the service, which is typically a wheelchair and handicapped accessible van. Many paratransit systems offer curb-to-curb service, meaning that you have to be capable of getting to and from the vehicle. If you have a personal care attendant, such as a family caregiver or a hired companion to help you, they can ride the system for free. This service is in high demand, though, meaning you must exercise some flexibility and patience when planning. You can expect that a senior can call and schedule a ride within 24 hours, the ride should only take one-half as long more than a fixed route ride on public transportation, and there is a 30 minute window of waiting time to be picked up by a driver (15 minutes before the requested time plus 15 minutes after the requested time).
A pricier option for alternative transportation is a taxi or ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft. These options also require a smartphone and some technological competency, but these companies are making efforts to provide more accessible vehicles and service options tailored to meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities. They require little to no planning ahead and provide curb-to-curb service. Additionally, they are available virtually all over and at all hours of the day.
Another pricey option would be to hire an in-home caregiver that could assist with light housekeeping, meal preparation, and other activities like bathing and dressing. They can also be hired to transport to doctor’s appointments, errands and recreational activities. A bonus of hiring a caregiver is that they will be there to help you get into and out of the vehicle and can provide company while on the outing if desired. This is a great option for seniors who want companionship and/or need a little extra assistance.
To get your estate in order and help you figure out which forms of alternative transportation best fit within your budget, contact us for a free consultation. We are available for phone consultations as well.
All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about our firm, our services and the experience of our attorneys. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may be subject to change without notice.