How to find transportation assistance for elder adults

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(File Photo/Federated Media)

By: REAL Services + Home Comfort Experts

When an elder adult can’t drive themselves around, it can cause a lot of stress and frustration for both them and their adult children.

After all, there are still doctors appointments to get to. The grocery shopping still needs to be done. Elders still want to maintain social engagements, like church or lunches with friends.

And as much as adult children want to help their parents, it’s not easy. They still have their own work schedules, their children’s schedules and their own errands and social engagements to juggle as well.

Luckily, there are usually transportation options that can help. Here are some tips for finding transportation options for elder adults.

1. Start out by reaching out to the Council on Aging or another nonprofit that serves senior adults

The volunteers and staff members at organizations like this usually are aware of the transportation offerings available both at their organizations and elsewhere in the community. They can give you all the information about signing up for their transportation services and possibly even give you contact information about other services.

2. Know that some transportation services don’t cover all types of transportation

Some organizations may only provide transportation to and from scheduled doctor appointments, while others may provide transportation for grocery shopping as well. Make sure to ask for specific schedules.

“It is first come, first served to schedule for medical appointments,” at REAL Services, said Tikkri Knarr, transportation coordinator at REAL Services. “Grocery shopping is set up on a route that goes every two weeks to a store closest to the clients’ home.” Clients then have an hour to shop. REAL Services may also be able to coordinate someone to shop for the client

3. When talking to a transportation service, ask a ton of questions

When it comes to transportation for yourself or a loved one, there is no such thing as “too many questions.” Have a list of questions ready to go when you’re talking to a transportation service. Ask about the transportation service, what is needed to schedule a transportation appointment and about how the organization makes sure drivers are safe. Also make sure to ask if there is a fee for the service, as well as any possible financial assistance options. Make sure to provide an emergency contact as well.

4. Check out public transportation options like city buses

If you or your loved one is able to move around independently but driving is difficult, public transportation may be a helpful option, especially for social engagements. Look for a bus stop close to home and get a schedule of the available routes.

5. If you or a loved one has memory issues, try to have a caretaker ride along

“Some clients get appointments mixed up. They may have the wrong destination, day or time,” Knarr said. Having a loved one ride along can ensure that appointment details are confirmed before the transportation arrives, as well as make sure you or your loved one arrive at the appointment. Drivers often can’t stay with a transportation client during their appointment, so this can help keep you or your loved one safe.

6. Be prepared to plan transportation ahead of time as often as possible

Because transportation services fill up so fast, many organizations ask for advanced notice of medical appointments to ensure that services can be provided.

“Our office prefers a two-week notice for all appointments,” Knarr said. “If we have an opening sooner, we try our best to fit it in or work with the client to reschedule for another day available.” For medical appointments that are scheduled weeks and months in advance, it is better to ask for medical transportation sooner rather than later. Also let the agency know how long an appointment is expected to last, so they can plan on a ride home as well.

Do you have questions about transportation or other aging-related topics? Get answers from local experts by calling REAL Services at 574-233-8205 or toll-free at 800-552-2916.

REAL Services is proudly supported by Home Comfort Experts. All In For Alzheimer’s.

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