Transportation is another aspect of a caregiver’s responsibilities that they do not need to navigate alone. There are numerous public and private groups and organizations that may be able to help elderly adults and the disabled, including door-to-door services, providing a range of transportation services for dementia patients and caregivers. These providers are a great option for helping elderly persons who no longer drive attend doctor appointments, visit family and friends, shop, dine out, and more.
Some options include paratransit services, mass transit and senior transport services, depending on the need, schedule and medical condition of the potential rider. And for fee-based services, a discount may be available for frequent passengers, senior citizens, people with low incomes and those with disabilities.
Senior Transport/Ridesharing Services
There are various groups that offer services to seniors who are seeking to age at home—including religious, non-profit and community organizations—and these groups may provide transportation to qualified seniors. Many are free, some ask for donations, others may charge $5 to $10 per ride, or a distance-based fee. There may also be a designated number of rides available per month, and advance scheduling may be necessary.
To find an organization near you, search for “senior services” online or in the phone book. You may also want to inquire with your local churches, or your nearest Area Agency on Aging for more suggestions for transportation services for dementia patients and caregivers.
Hospital and Clinic Transportation
The medical facilities your loved one uses may also offer transportation between home and the treatment location for patients receiving inpatient, outpatient and other treatments. These services are generally offered based on availability, making it a good backup option for transportation services for dementia patients and caregivers. These free services typically require advance scheduling of at least several days to a week prior to the visit. Contact the medical facility in question to learn more.
These services offer cars, vans and/or buses for picking up and dropping off individuals, generally including door-to-door assistance. Paratransit services are usually offered to those who can’t utilize mass transit due to a physical or mental disability. Fares may vary, but are generally comparable to regular mass transit fares. There may be discounts available for frequent use and through local senior programs. Caregivers and/or passengers may need to apply first, and/or provide medical information, in order to qualify.
One useful resource is the American Public Transportation Association’s listing of local and state transit services. Some communities may also offer public transport and paratransit information over the phone, by dialing 511. A web search for the term “paratransit” and your local area is another good starting point.
Traditional on-call taxi services are yet another option for transportation services for dementia patients and caregivers, especially for people who live in cities or larger metropolitan areas, who need to be picked up and dropped off at specific locations. Costs will vary depending upon the area and cab company, but may range from an initial charge of $1.75 to $4, plus a per-mile charge of $0.30 to $0.90. Many taxi companies also offer scrip discounts and coupons that elderly adults can use for fares.
You can learn more about your local taxi companies by conducting a web search with the key words “taxi service” and your specified area, or by browsing the Yellow Pages under “taxi.” For information on scrip programs, search the web for your locale and the term “taxi scrip.”
Veterans Administration (VA) medical facilities usually offer free limited transportation services to patients, but may only provide a finite number of daily pickups, and only at centralized locations. Advance planning is required and the method may be best for those still capable of moderate self-care, since most facilities will not transport family or friends. In most cases riders will need to enter and exit vehicles with only limited assistance, and wheelchair accommodations need to be made in advance. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mass transit methods like the bus and railway are another viable option for transportation services for dementia patients and caregivers, and in most cases the vehicles are equipped to accommodate disabled riders, including lifts or ramps for wheelchairs and scooters. Costs vary widely, but may range from $0.50 to $4 per ride; however reduced fares may be available for frequent riders, seniors, persons with disabilities and those with Medicare.
To research local mass transit options, check out the American Public Transportation Association’s web listings. Some communities may also offer public transport information by phone, accessible by dialing 511. You may also try a web search for your local state department of transportation. And finally, check your phone book, under “bus lines.”