Uber & Other Rideshare Services: Are They Appropriate for Mobility Challenged Seniors?

ride options for mobility challenged seniors
Are rideshare services a good option for mobility challenged seniors?

I have been reading a flurry of articles lately about rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft targeting seniors.  I have a lot of concerns with this and felt strongly that this is a topic I wanted to discuss on the Senior Mobility Network.  Mobility challenged seniors come with a completely different set of needs that must be addressed properly when evaluating rideshare services.

In 2015,  Gainesville, Fla., and a local eldercare network partnered with Uber and launched a pilot program providing seniors with subsidized rides called Freedom in Motion.  The program has proven to be a success and now has been expanded citywide in Gainesville.  Other cities are taking notice and potentially looking at replicating this model.  One flaw I see is that Uber is a smartphone enabled app and according to According to Pew Research Center, 70 percent of U.S. adults 65 or older don’t have access to smartphones.

Lyft  and Home Care Assistance have a similar partnership in the Bay Area in California with a bit of a twist that solves this issue.  With its partnership with Lyft, seniors who prefer to talk with a person rather than engage via app screens can call a Home Care Assistance number and speak with someone who will help arrange a Lyft ride for them.

This becomes a much more complicated proposition when dealing with a senior with any type of mobility issue.    That said, it’s still vitally important that that you ask the right questions when looking at a program like this for your loved one or arranging any type of ride service.

mobility challenged seniors

My mother uses a driver to get back and forth from doctors appointments and these are the 4 key things she recommends you ask…  
1. What Kind of Vehicle Does the Driver Have? 
  • I have personally noticed that so many people that offer paid rides for seniors have large SUVs that are virtually impossible for them to get into to and out of.  This immediately sends up a red flag because this is such a risk to mobility challenged seniors.
  • Falls are the number 1 risk to the elderly who are already unstable on their feet.  Why tempt fate when you don’t have to?
2.  Do They Have Experience Driving Seniors with Special Needs?
  • This is a very important question to ask.  Get referrals from sources you trust for rides.  My mother’s driver is almost exclusively dedicated to seniors who need extra help.
  • She uses her walker to get in and out his sedan, but lately she has needed to use a wheel chair because she broke her foot.  Her driver is very attuned to her needs and helps her every step of the way.  He has a pretty big trunk and can handle getting her wheel chair in and out.
3.  Will They Help Get the Person Safely into Their Doctors Office and Back Out Again?
  • My mother initially used a driver who would drop her off at the curb and leave.  She had to struggle to get into the building, find her way and walk a longer distance potentially that she could have.  Once again, major red flags!
  • Now her driver walks with her to the office, opening doors, getting her into the elevator and to and from the office.
4.  Will They Wait With Them if Needed?
  • Many drivers that cater to seniors will do this for an additional fee.  My mother just calls the driver when her appointment is done and her comes to the office to get her.
  • It’s a very simple process that minimizes the risk of falling.  I personally think it is well worth the price for peace of mind.
 Here are some other things things to think about…

Does the service have a portable ramp and other tools available to easily get seniors in and out of their vehicles?  Based on my mother’s mobility level, I  was much more comfortable for drivers who came prepared and could demonstrate that they had experience with dealing with seniors with mobility issues.

I am very curious about these issues with services like Uber and Lyft.  This is a trend I want to keep an eye on and so should you if you are in my situation with your loved one.  Please leave a comment and let us know how you are managing this issue with your aging parent.

Thanks for reading!


Related Articles:  Helping Your Elderly Parents Avoid Falls





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