When they can’t drive, getting Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa to the doctor and other medical appointments can be challenging. They can’t afford to miss a key appointment, but you aren’t able to drop everything to give them a ride and accompany them each time.
It can seem like there are few places to turn --- but there are actually plenty of options.
To some this list may seem like common sense. But we're often surprised at how many people don’t know of the services and solutions available. Without further ado, here are ten ways to get a senior to his or her doctor’s appointment.
Drive them yourself
This is what most people normally think of as the first option. If schedules and logistics permit, this can be the best bet. Your relative will probably feel most comfortable traveling with you. But sometimes this is not possible either for reasons of time and distance or size of vehicle etc. If, for whatever reason, you aren't confident that you'll be able to safely transport your relative, or they're in a wheelchair and need a special vehicle, you should go with an alternative.
Book a Taxi
Another option is to arrange for a classic yellow cab. But we all know the drawbacks here. Cab drivers will most likely not be able to handle any sort of curveballs, aren’t trained to specifically deal with the elderly, and may not be sensitive to individual needs. They are also unlikely to physically help a person to and from the cab and inside to the appointment. Unless you specifically request a larger van, they also may not be able to accommodate a wheelchair.
Use a Medical Car
Medical cars are an ideal option for seniors who have some mobility but need assistance. If a senior walks with a walker or cane for example this can be a great choice. They are also usually very affordable. The benefit here is that they will be traveling with a trained medical professional that will keep them company as well as respond appropriately if any situation might arise.
The medical car staff will wait on hand for the appointment to end, and help out along the way. Having a driver with experience in dealing with mobility assistance techniques can make all the difference.
The medical car mode of transport can include vans, SUVs, or sedans
Use a Wheelchair Van
Especially for seniors who are confined to a chair, wheelchair vans are a perfect solution. One or two vehicle attendants will arrive, assist the person from inside the home, down the steps and out into the vehicle. They will wait at the appointment and can also provide a wheelchair if necessary.
Like with a medical car service, this mode of transportation means having an extra sense of security and peace of mind. Not only are the drivers and attendants thoroughly screened and trained, the vehicle is monitored by satellite, and there are safety measures in place to ensure a timely and comfortable passage.
MAVTs assist wheelchair van clients up and down stairs safely and securely
Use an ambulance
While certainly not the most affordable option, some seniors require an ambulance to get to and from the doctor. Unless he or she meets certain criteria, such as needing dialysis or being on hospice, Medicare and most private insurance won’t cover this service. For more on when Medicare will cover ambulance services, have a look at this resource on how coverage for ambulance services works.
Home health aide drives their car
If your relative has a home health aide --- and their own car, it’s possible that the aide will be able to drive them to and from the appointment. This will depend on the state, and on the agency’s policy. With a home health aide, the senior will have a companion by their side, but they'll have to either pay hourly for this service, or receive "live-in" care.
Public Transportation (including Access Link)
Here in New Jersey, our bus system has wheelchair restraint equipped seats, and we also have a separate system for people with disabilities called Access Link. Access Link will take a qualified rider to any destination as long as it’s within one mile of an established bus route. For more info on how to sign up for this service check out Access Links' site. This can be a great option for those with slight mobility issues, but those with more complex transportation logistics will probably want to seek out another option.
Use Uber (or Lyft)
You could always try Uber or Lyft. The ridesharing apps are extremely popular. However, you’ll need a smartphone and the drivers will not be accustomed to meeting the specific needs of the elderly. If your relative has no problem moving around and enjoys meeting new people this might be the way to go. Uber and Lyft screen their drivers with background and driving record checks, but they really aren't geared towards serving seniors with special requirements. If your family member has never used this service before we highly recommend that you ride along with them the first time. You can now book in advance up to 30 days ahead for Uber and seven for Lyft.
Check local churches and non-profits
You may be able to find an organization that provides Volunteer Driver Programs. Reservations will be required, but these services can be a solution for someone who just needs a one-way ride or has recurring transportation needs. They are typically supported by donations or a small membership fee. The only drawback here is that you'll probably need to book well in advance, and there may not be much flexibility in the logistics of the ride.
Check your county’s Senior Services/Department of Aging website
Here in NJ, each county has different disability transportation options available. From reduced-cost intermittent rides to community shuttle service and more, each county has transportation as well as general senior and caregiver services available. To see what's available in your county, try the links below.
- Cape May
Remember, not all modes of transport are created equal. Wheelchair van and medical car services stand out as a superior option from a safety, reliability, and cost standpoint. However, it really depends on the person, the family, and the situation.
For more information about the transportation resources available to you and your loved ones --- give us a call at (908) 298 9500 or contact us online. Whether it's with our company or not, matching people to appropriate transportation solutions is what we do. We are glad to provide you with some tips and additional info to make sure you find the right answer.