Elderly Drivers - Mom Can't Drive Anymore:
Elderly Transportation: Finding an Alternative
Unfortunately, there will come a time when Mom or Dad is no longer able to drive safely.
Reaction times and coordination slows, joints stiffen, and vision fails, often leaving seniors with the inability to distinguish between traffic light colors or diminished night vision acuity In addition, medications as well as various forms of dementia and musculo-skeletal conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson's disease may severely hamper an elderly parent's ability to drive. Understanding the transportation needs of your parent will help caregivers find adequate solutions to deal with most situations.
Caregivers should realize that the inability to drive may cause some elderly drivers severe emotional distress. Having to rely on others to get from Point A to point B is difficult to swallow for many, and pride or downright stubbornness will often encourage seniors to continue driving when even they know they shouldn't.
However, researching options and opportunities before the time comes to start hiding the car keys or the car insurance is canceled can help prepare your parent for the inevitable change. While studies have shown that elderly individuals are involved in fewer collisions than any other age group, they also drive less. Unfortunately the elderly have more violations and accidents per mile driven than any other age group.
Public transportation offers taxis and buses in most communities for former elderly drivers. While taxis can be more expensive, they are able to cater to independent needs. Buses usually run in most moderately sized communities, but getting to bus stops may be a problem for some elderly individuals. Determine the needs of your elderly parent when it comes to appointments, errands and his or her social life and determine whether or not public transportation offers viable alternatives.
Car pools are often available in certain close-knit communities and neighborhoods. Whether your parent lives at home or in an assisted living or retirement community, inquire with management regarding car pools that may be organized to help the former elderly driver get to their medical appointments, run shopping errands, or spend a few hours a day at community resource centers, meal programs, or volunteering at local hospitals or schools.
Family and friends are usually the first to help offer rides to the elderly, but such offers are usually catered around the driver's schedule and not the elderly parent. However, such transportation is free (in most cases, elderly parents offer to pay for gas) and when carefully catered to the needs of the elderly parent, can usually be worked out with a minimum of fuss.
Community services often offer transportation to area seniors in the form of vans that offer free or minimal-fee transportation to and from doctors' offices, grocery stores and other locations, depending on area. Many cities have set up public transportation services for the elderly and disabled, depending on whether the community is in aid and urban or rural setting.
In some cases, Medicaid covers non-emergency transportation such as scheduled doctors’ visits, while Medicare typically only covers emergency medical transportation that requires 911 services. Caregivers of the elderly should check out the Older Americans Act, which grants funds to states for support of Area Agencies on Aging that offer resources to the elderly looking for alternative transportation means. The Americans with Disabilities Act also guarantees transportation services for many disabled seniors, often provided by local public transportation services or community para transit services.
Para Transit services in many local communities offer handicapped and wheelchair accessible vans that also offer curb to curb services along their routes. Caregivers and the elderly should check with their local Chambers of Commerce or Department of Human Health and Services or senior community resources to determine the availability of such modes of transportation in his or her community.
Alternative transportation is available to seniors, but is not always easy to find.
Don't wait until the last minute to start researching information regarding options. Knowing the options or alternatives may help to soothe and smooth the transition from total to semi-total independence for your parent.