Laura Herman, Dementia and Eldercare Professional
Added: 08.18.2022
6 minutes read
By Laura Herman, Dementia and Eldercare Professional

The Value of Transportation Services for Caregivers of Aging Loved Ones

If your loved one can no longer drive you may wonder how they’re going to get to appointments or take care of their errands? How will they continue to socialize and engage in meaningful activities to stave off isolation and depression? 

Will you be able to drive them everywhere they need to go? About 40% of family caregivers spend five or more hours every week driving or arranging transportation for their loved one. Most caregivers are strapped for time and could use that five hours for other purposes.

If your loved one uses a wheelchair driving them yourself may not be an option at all.

Luckily, there are a variety of options when it comes to senior transportation services.

How Much Do Transportation Services Cost? 

The cost of transportation services varies widely. 

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Medicaid or insurance may cover medical transportation at little or no cost in some cases. They will only cover essential medical appointments. 

Volunteer driver programs may offer both medical and non-medical transportation for a small stipend – perhaps $5-10 per trip – but availability is limited and reservations are generally required. 

Paratransit services charge no more than twice the public transportation service charges for the comparable route – so it’s usually under $5 or $10 for the trip.

ITN America – a non-profit organization – charges an annual membership fee of around $50-80. Each trip costs about half the cost of a taxi. They offer opportunities to save money by scheduling rides ahead of time or ride-sharing with others.

Private ride services designed for seniors may cost $20-40 per trip, or more, depending on location, distance, and other factors.  

Taxis become expensive quickly as the meter racks up every minute and tenth of a mile. 

Home care agencies generally provide transportation services. These come with the benefit that the driver is a home care aide who can help your loved one get ready to go, get into the vehicle, and even accompany them during the appointment, errand, or activity. The national average cost of a home care aide is around $26/hour.

How Do I Find a Transportation Service for my Loved One? 

Consider the criteria you need when it comes to transportation. 

  • Can you schedule your trip ahead or do you need to request an immediate ride?
  • Where’s the balance between cost and convenience?
  • Does your loved one need assistance to get in and out of the vehicle?
  • Will your loved one need a wheelchair to be loaded into the vehicle or will they need a wheelchair van so they can remain in the vehicle?
  • Can your loved one travel alone? Will they be able to manage the situation if they run into trouble with technology or other issues come up?
  • Will your loved one need help to carry bags or items to the door?

Depending on the level of assistance your loved one needs there are many potential options available.
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Uber drivers can be scheduled ahead or requested immediately. Rates are typically less than a taxi, but they can vary throughout the day and week. Coverage may be sparse in rural areas. 

  • Schedule a ride for your loved one through the Uber app or website.
  • Your loved one can call GoGoGrandparent to make the arrangements hassle-free.

Paratransit services are provided by public transportation agencies to accommodate people with disabilities. The cost is low, but you must meet eligibility requirements and schedule transportation ahead of time.  

ITN America is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing low-cost transportation to older adults. Drivers can help seniors in and out of vehicles and assist with things like carrying groceries to the door. Unfortunately, ITN isn’t available in all areas. 

  • Learn more about ITN America here.

Lively Rides -  a partnership between Lively – a cell phone company tailored toward seniors – and the Lyft rideshare service, Lively Rides is available anywhere Lyft operates. Using the senior-friendly Lively Jitterbug phones, your loved one can arrange an immediate ride by pressing “0” and speaking to a live operator. The cost of the ride is applied to their next phone bill. 

  • Learn more about Lively Rides here.

Medicaid provides transportation to essential medical appointments to those enrolled in Medicaid.

  • Contact your managed care plan customer support staff with questions about their ride program or learn more here.  

Other local programs may exist in your community. There are several options for locating them.