New features of rideshare services let Mom and Dad keep their independence.
The average American woman will outlive her ability to drive by 10 years, and men, six years, according to a recent study by Consumer Reports. Oftentimes, it’s a family member who must broach the wrenching topic of ending a lifetime in the driver’s seat. Many seniors report that losing their driving privileges is a bigger blow than having to go into an assisted living facility.
But is it now possible to ease some of the agony of taking away the keys with a technological alternative retirees almost anywhere can use?
Giving Seniors a Lyft
Ride-service company Lyft, which millennials widely use, has developed partnerships with CareLinx and Ascension to help older adults make it to health appointments. The collaboration with CareLinx adds a network of about 170,000 caregivers nationwide, while Ascension boasts 2,500 care facilities in the nation’s largest nonprofit health care system.
In addition, CareLinx ensures that a licensed caregiver will be along for the ride. Whether it’s to the grocery store or a doctor’s office, there is help getting in and out of the vehicle, stowing a walker, or reading labels and instructions.
“It’s really a door-through-door solution,” according to Dan Trigub, who oversees health care partnerships at Lyft.
Caregivers, Family Can Request Ride
Many seniors are uncomfortable with smartphone technology, or unable to use the devices. Anyone can access a web-based tool called Concierge on a phone or PC to request Lyft rides.
“In less than 10 seconds, a person can schedule a ride on behalf of somebody,” says Trigub. “They enter the pickup and drop-off locations and they can schedule up to a week in advance or in real time. Then they have access to our fleet of vehicles in that area.”
Jitterbug Answers the Call for Transportation
Many seniors who can’t use an iPhone or Android are already familiar with Jitterbug, a simplified smartphone developed with older folks in mind. Thanks to a partnership with GreatCall, seniors in more parts of the country have one-button access to transportation. Press “0” to hook up to GreatCall’s Personal Operator Service, and a car will arrive in minutes.
“We know, both from our customers and research by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, that transportation limitations seriously impact the independence and self-confidence of older adults,” says David Inns, CEO of GreatCall.
“While many of us are aware of and comfortable with ride-sharing apps, the technology requirements—a smart phone and an app—make it difficult for many older adults,” adds Inns. “By incorporating it as part of GreatCall’s Personal Operator Services—having requests handled 24/7 by a member of our U.S.—based customer service team— we make it easy as well as affordable and reliable.”
Uber Connects with Senior Market
Ride-share service Uber is also exploring ways to connect with older adults. Uber partnered with AARP at senior centers in Florida to teach members how to use their app. Uber also partnered with California-based 24HrHomeCare to create a service dubbed RideWith24 in response to long wait times at area hospitals for a ride home.
Seniors Who No Longer Drive
Statistics show that for seniors who no longer drive, quality of life decreases. Health care suffers as 15 percent make fewer trips to the doctor, and 59 percent reduce outings to shop or go to a restaurant. Perhaps the greatest hit to quality of life, however, is the 55 percent who take fewer trips to visit friends and family.
Recently, nonprofit health care system MedStar Health, based in Washington, D.C., reached out to Uber.
“They saw through their own research that the cost of missed appointments is ridiculously high,” explains Lindsay Elin, Uber’s Head of Community Engagement. “They were looking to drive down their own costs, and transportation was a big hurdle.”
Now, MedStar patients can ask for ride service when they make appointments, and the staff at MedStar manages the rides. They can track trips to see when patients arrive.
Uber for All
It’s now possible, through a program called UberFamily, to create multi-person profiles on the Uber app, and then schedule rides on behalf of family members. UberFamily can even keep seniors mobile who live in a different state than other family members. For example, a daughter living in Phoenix can schedule a ride next week for her father in Boston.
It’s always a tough call to tell a parent their driving days are over, but replacing the car with a ride-share service through a smartphone can keep seniors rolling.
“Lyft and Uber Want To Give Old Folks a Ride,” Smithsonian Magazine.
“New Solutions to Keep Seniors Moving,” Lyft Blog.
“Taking Away an Older Driver’s Keys,” Next Avenue.
“Seniors: Loneliness and Social Isolation,” 2016 Community Development Halton.
“What is UberFAMILY?” uberkit.
“Distribution of Licensed Drivers - 2015 - By Sex and Percentage in each Age Group and Relation to Population,” US Department of Transportation.
“How Seniors Are Driving Safer, Driving Longer,” Consumer Reports.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors