When mom and dad were still living independently, they lived in a mobile home in the south for the 6 winter months and in their permanent home in the north for the other 6 months. After dad stopped driving, they became isolated and had difficulty getting around. Mom had multiple medical problems and frequent medical appointments. Most of the year I was thousands of miles away and unable to help her.
About 5 years ago I put together a spreadsheet for mom that listed the transportation options open to her and their telephone numbers and requirements. One required notice a week in advance and only went in the town she lived in. The other would go to any town but only for medical appointments, etc. Mom is gone now, but during her last few years, she relied on these two lists I had made – one for her southern mobile home and one for her northern summer home.
Recently I decided I needed a similar list for myself. I can drive but there are limits that I stick with. I don’t drive on ice or snow. I don’t drive in the dark or if it might be dark by the time my appointment is finished. I drive in my suburban community and some areas nearby, but I don’t drive into the city or to the other side of the city.
Basically I don’t go where I would need to take the freeways both because of very aggressive drivers on the freeways and also because of the constant construction and detours. I moved here after retirement, and I still don’t know my way around all the various communities and destinations and I don’t have a good sense of direction.
I recently realized that I have been avoiding doing things I really wanted to do simply because I had no idea how I would get myself there and home again. I found myself frustrated by these mostly self-imposed limits. I thought once I was here awhile and learned more about the area I would be able to drive more places. But, while my driving area has increased, it still doesn’t cover the whole metropolitan area, and still doesn’t help with darkness or icy conditions.
Finally I decided that I would make myself a transportation spreadsheet similar to the ones I had made for mom. I called Eldersource (1-800-677-1116) and explained what I needed. They sent me a 20 page listing of all the transportation options in our county. I went through it with a red pen and marked the options that looked like they would work for me.
Many were limited to people who lived in a specific area of the county or who had a specific disability. After eliminating all that wouldn’t apply to me, I had a list of about 10 choices. Several of these are private individuals or companies who provide transportation at a fixed price. The price can range from fairly reasonable to a bit expensive.
There was also a “Medical cab” option that actually sometimes covers more than medical trips and is reasonably priced, especially for low-income seniors. There is a company that provides many home health type caregivers, but among them is a driver who will take you anyplace (not just to medical appointments) and who will usually stay with you. This is all around $25 per hour for many of the options.
Some are affiliated with religious organizations, like the one sponsored by the Catholic Church and one by the Jewish Community. These are not limited to people of their faith but some require some paperwork first to give them permission to get some medical information if they need it,
There were 2 in my home town. One is limited to “isolated seniors” meaning only those who have absolutely no family in the entire metropolitan area would qualify. I don’t qualify since I have a son and daughter nearby even though they would both be at work when I needed rides. The second is for medical appointments only, has limited slots available, must be called the day before and may not have a driver available. This looked a bit uncertain to count on, so I started reviewing the rest of the options.
At this point I have 3 transportation options on the top of my list. One is called “Mary’s transit” and is a one woman company. She is reasonable priced, lives near me, but not available for the 1st 3 weeks I would need her. I will probably contact her in the future.
The second is the medical cab — which is the one I booked for next week. This one is a bit uncertain to me as when I called them directly they said they took only medical appointments. But when I talked to the Eldersource representative, she assured me the medical cab would take me even to community classes. I had her book me a trip for Monday and called the company to confirm pickup and that seemed to work. I will see how that works out in the long run. (I suspect it is available to people over 65 for non-medical appointments and not to others, or something like that!)
The transportation options on the list I obtained from Eldersource are available to all seniors. However, the cost may differ depending on income and other issues. For instance, if someone is on Medicaid, then the cost of some of these transportation options would be taken care of by Medicaid. If one has a very low-income, the cost is adjusted to be much lower, and if income is not extremely low but still under $50,000 it is reduced a bit. If income is over $50,000 then one pays the higher standard rate. I haven’t yet received the paperwork to complete about my income and verification which is done by sending a copy of a tax return or bank statement.
I am pleased with myself for creating this list and starting to do some activities I have postponed for too long. It has taken me until now to find the time to think about myself some of the time rather than focusing primarily on dad. Of course, if anything happens to dad, I will still have to cancel my activity to care for dad. But in the meantime I can do other things some of the time.
In addition, I have found transportation options that would work for dad too. Until now I have been the only driver to take dad to see his specialists (his primary doctor or her nurse practitioner sees him in his assisted living facility). Now I have a backup plan in case I am unable to drive dad to a medical appointment for any reason. That also gives me peace of mind knowing that no matter the weather or circumstances, I can be sure dad will get to his appointments also.