There’s an old saying about the inevitable aging process we must all forego: “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” Simple as that. In other words, the older you get, the harder life gets. But there are lots of people working hard so that senior living doesn’t have to be that way.
One of those many challenges that seniors must face is transportation. It’s something many of us take for granted. We just hop in the car and go. But when you get older it’s not as easy. It’s not uncommon that most elderly persons have to give up their keys at some point—whether it be a slowing reaction time, failing eyesight, or a fading memory, driving can start to become more of a danger than convenience when you start climbing up in age. So many seniors give it up (not without a fight, for some), and thus have to rely on friends, family, and other methods of transportation if they need to go to the grocery store, the post office, or just get out of the house.
Well, that’s no easy task either. Friends are busy, family has things to do and no time to do them, and no one wants to feel like a burden. And if you’ve never had to take a bus or public transit before, that becomes one more thing you have to learn. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it can still be pretty frustrating. There’s always private driving services that can send a car to pick you up and drop you off, but those can get expensive especially to those living on a fixed income.
So clearly, something as simple as going to Walmart can become a daunting task for a senior citizen, and can be especially problematic to those with chronic illnesses that require monthly or even weekly doctor visits. The more frustrating it is to find transportation, the more likely the senior will miss the appointment—or perhaps, out of desperation, might call 911 for a non-emergency ride, which may divert access to people who may have actual life-threatening emergencies. Either option only leads to more problems for them down the road.
But with the blessing of technology, senior living is about to get a little easier. Multiple medical providers and hospitals are starting to partner up with the popular mobile phone app ride services Uber and Lyft to help seniors make it to their important doctor appointments safe and sound. These bonds are working to making it easier for rides to be arranged, and in some cases are even covered by Medicaid or other insurance companies.
For example there is National MedTrans Network, a transportation service operating in several states that extended a partnership with Lyft. And there’s MedStar Health, a healthcare system in Maryland that teamed up with Uber so that seniors can set up rides and reminders directly on a hospital’s website and by simply calling in if they can’t access the mobile app. Hackensack UMC in New Jersey, Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida, and Relatient have set up programs with Uber as well.
Looks like those smartphone apps aren’t just for the young folks anymore! And with the numbers of these transportation assistance programs continuing to grow, it’s likely that these may become a common service in the future. Just think, a twenty-something of today taking an Uber to get to the club, may be using that same mobile app to get to their hepatologist appointment forty years later.