An Introduction To Transportation

Making sure that your loved one has reliable transportation to the doctor’s office and other important appointments can be one of a caregiver’s most difficult tasks.

Transportation can be a tough issue for many caregiving families. The issue is even more difficult if your loved one has mobility problems. Until you have to arrange it, it doesn’t seem that something as basic as getting your loved one to a doctor’s appointment should be so hard. But for most families, it is. Here’s how to begin solving this problem.

Explore Community-Based Resources

  • Area Agencies on Aging. There are 670 Area Agencies on Aging nationwide. Area Agencies on Aging have an Information and Assistance service providing caregivers with specific information about services in the community, including transportation services. These local agencies, monitor and support specialized transportation services for elders (and others that qualify) in their community.
  • Title VI Programs. There are also 221 programs nationwide that administer Title VI of the Older Americans Act. The Title VI program promotes nutrition and supportive services, such as transportation, to American Indian, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The Title VI Program also has an Information and Assistance service that provides specific information about services in the community. To contact your Title VI Program, refer to the telephone directory in the Blue Pages or government listings and/or in the Yellow Pages under aging, senior citizens, community services or social services. Or you may phone the Eldercare Locator toll free at 1-800-677-1116.
  • The Yellow Pages. Many telephone books have a special section in the front of the book with the names and addresses of various service organizations. Look under transportation or community services for the names of agencies that provide transportation for special needs.
  • The National Transit Hotline. The National Transit Hotline can provide the names of local transit providers who receive federal money to provide transportation to the elderly and people with disabilities. Call toll free 1-800-527-8279.
  • The State Unit on Aging. The State Unit on Aging is the agency designated by the governor and the state legislature as the focal point for all matters relating to the needs of older persons within the state. The State Unit on Aging is responsible for planning, coordination, funding and evaluating programs for older persons authorized by both state and federal government. Refer to your state government listings for your state’s office on aging or department of human resources.
  • Medicaid-related transportation alternatives. Medicaid regulations require each state to ensure that Medicaid recipients have access to appropriate transportation to Medicaid-covered services (i.e. doctor’s appointments and other medical treatments). To learn more, contact your local Area Agencies on Aging.

Learn About The Various Types Of Transportation Available In Your Community

The type of transportation that is available in your community will vary depending upon where you live. In addition, transportation for the elderly and disabled can include door-to-door service, the public bus that travels along a fixed route or ridesharing in a carpool. The following briefly describes these three general classes of transportation.

  • Door-to-Door (Also known as Demand Response). Demand response, also called Dial-a-Ride, refers to a system requiring advance reservations and offering point-to-point or door-to-door transportation from one specific location to another. The door-to-door service provides flexibility, comfort and potential for adapting to the needs of each rider. Demand response transportation systems usually provide transportation on an advance reservation basis, often requiring payment of fare or donations on a per ride basis.
  • Fixed Route. Fixed route and scheduled services transport riders along an established route with designated stops where riders can board and be dropped off. Reservations are not required because the vehicles stop at predetermined times and locations. Fixed route services usually require payment of a fare on a per ride basis. Many communities offer discounts to senior citizens.
  • Ridesharing. Ridesharing programs coordinate people who need rides with volunteer drivers who have space in their automobiles. Typically, this service is scheduled transportation with a specific destination. The destination points can include places of employment, nutrition sites, senior centers and medical appointments.

Research Private And Non-Profit Organizations For Transportation Solutions

  • Private sector. Private organizations may offer another transportation resource for caregivers. For example, hospitals, senior centers, retirement communities, and adult day care facilities may provide transportation to people who use their services.
  • Taxi and transportation firms. Many taxicab companies also are equipped to help transport persons with mobility problems. Such companies offer accessible vans and trained drivers, and some provide discounted fares to older adults or persons with disabilities. If accessible taxi services are available in your loved one’s community, find out about any cost-saving programs that may be offered. Some communities provide discounted taxi vouchers to qualifying adults.
  • Non-profit organizations. Non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross, the United Way, the American Cancer Society, and others also may provide transportation services to those who need them. Local churches and other community organizations are another possible transportation resource. Take time to find out which, if any, of these options are available in your loved one’s community, and which provide the best services at the least cost.

© Copyright FamilyCare America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Adapted from materials created for redistribution by Mark Meridy, National Eldercare Institute on Transportation, Community Transportation Association of America, Washington, D.C.

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