Noticing that your elderly parents are too old to drive safely and persuading them to give up their keys can be one of the toughest parts of the relationship that you have with them. Research by the AAA reports that many families face this struggle. As hard as getting your parents to agree may be, though, it is nothing compared to what happens once they do as you ask.
What happens when an elderly person can’t drive?
Just as with teenagers, the ability to drive equates to freedom to an elderly person. It can be impossible to live alone when you have no transportation, for instance. How does one get to the grocery store, to medical appointments or to the church? Losing the ability to drive can mean giving up living independently and moving in with a family member. Usually, it’s the person who’s persuaded the parent to give up driving who needs to take the parent in.
Before you decide to discuss with a parent that they need to give up their keys, you need to consider how you will help them live their life afterwards. Luckily for elderly people who cannot drive, alternatives to moving in with an adult child are easier to come by today.
Transportation providers offer a number of alternatives for elderly people who have given up their keys
Door-to-door transportation businesses have services for the elderly. They offer trained drivers who help the elderly into their cars, drive them and help them out at their destination. Door-to-door drivers don’t help with much more, though – not even with wheelchair stowage.
For elderly people who need a greater degree of assistance getting somewhere and getting back home, door-through-door transportation services offer the full package. Their drivers help elderly passengers out of their homes and into their cars and help with any luggage or wheelchairs, too.
Some door-through-door services go even farther – they offer companionship to the elderly in addition to transportation services. Their drivers go on walks with their clients, play a game of chess, have a conversation and so on. Such levels of service are often expensive – running to over $125 for a full day.
Sometimes, these services partner with community groups to offer lower, discounted rates. ITN America is one example. Many elderly people who use their services are on low incomes.
Where does one find such services?
If searching on the Internet doesn’t turn up a business in your area, you can try your church for advice or ask the Beverly Foundation – a nonprofit that helps families look for transportation services for elderly family members. The government’s Elder Care Locator service has door-through-door transportation resources, as well. Locally Neighbors Network http://www.neighborsnetworkfl.org helps families in the Winter Park Maitland and Eatonville area. Also Caregiver Central is a great resource for Central Florida for all your caregiving needs http://www.caregivercentral.org.
When patients who are discharged from a hospital return with complaints of unsolved issues, the hospital faces legal penalties under the Affordable Care Act. The law makes the assumption patients only come back when their hospitals haven’t done their job properly.
One reason why patients need to return is that often, a lack of transportation makes it impossible for them to make it to all their post-discharge medical appointments. Their care suffers then. For this reason, hospitals offer transportation services to seniors who need such help. It’s a way for hospitals to avoid being penalized. Families can talk to the hospitals that treat their elderly about free transportation-related help.
The Nurses at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your transportation options or your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care. We are a senior care agency providing elder home care serves in the Orlando area, 407-788-9393.
Hank Charpentier, BSB, MBA, MA, Certified Senior Adviser