Uber Can Give Seniors Their Wheels, Flexibility and Independence Back

Uber Can Give Seniors Their Wheels, Flexibility and Independence Back

Driving to the doctor, the supermarket, to visit friends or just to see the change in seasons through Mother Nature’s eyes is something many of us take for granted.

When our senior loved ones no longer drive, whether they are no longer safe behind the wheel, choose to give up their keys, or can’t afford to own a car, they still need to get from one place to another.

How can they get to essential services like the grocery store or just to places that will help them enjoy life, like visiting friends or the ice cream shop, especially if they live in suburban or rural cities without a transportation infrastructure?

Not being able to get where they need to go or having to rely on family or friends to get there, can rob seniors of their independence and maybe even the ability to age in place.

Some who are lucky enough to live in a city that is walkable, with the places they need within safe walking distance, will be able to live independently without transportation worries.

Others may live in a city with accessible public transportation to help get them from here to there.

Many Seniors Need Alternative Transportation

Unfortunately, a large majority of community dwelling seniors have no access to public transportation or walkable city services and need to find a solution to meeting their needs without a car to rely on each day.

It is estimated that by the age of 75, 31% of seniors need to find alternative forms of transportation because they no longer drive.

There may be taxi cabs or senior bus services but these can be costly and inconvenient for some seniors.

Senior based transportation services are not always as reliable as needed and could result in missed appointments, especially if living in a rural area.

There is a way for our senior loved ones to get on the road again!

Yes, we are talking about Uber.

Mobile App Required

Do they have a smartphone or tablet?

Can they get the app or will they need some guidance from you or someone who helps them with this and other tech applications? Grandchildren can be great for this!

Once the app is installed and a quick tutorial about how to use it is completed, your senior loved one can become one of the estimated 40% of Uber riders who are seniors.

It has been reported that using the app to get a ride is growing among seniors and that those who are currently using it are teaching other seniors how to do it too!

A recent report from the Consumer Electronics Association indicates 46% of senior households have smartphones and 40% have tablets, so the number who could find a solution to their transportation quandary is growing.

How often seniors need a ride each week will vary but some may need at least one ride a day or even more, depending on how many appointments or errands they need outside their walking distance.

Be aware when you install the Uber app you will be asked to share your location (so they can find you), register using email and a password and you will need to set up a payment method for future use in order to be able to become a Uber rider.

You can get a ride estimate from where you are to where you want to go so you will be able to decide if that is the option for you. It will automatically charge your method of payment including a tip so no cash is needed.

Benefits of Uber for Seniors

Getting transportation that is easy to access and reliable for seniors who no longer drive can mean that they will be able to live independently a bit longer. Seniors can also enjoy their life knowing they aren’t at the mercy of public transportation or a senior van. On demand ridesharing is meeting the needs of many seniors and more to come.

How seniors benefit from ridesharing:

  1. Seniors can get a ride when they want it directly to and from where they want to go.
  2. Seniors don’t have to schedule a senior bus (paratransit) days ahead of their need.
  3. Seniors don’t have to stop at multiple stops picking and dropping off others on their way to their own destination when riding a senior bus.
  4. The rideshare car is reliable, sometimes the senior van is late or doesn’t arrive at all making the senior miss an appointment, an opportunity to visit friends or even miss a medication dosage when delayed.
  5. Seniors don’t want to burden their family members (at least not every time they need a ride).
  6. Seniors don’t want to rely on a taxicab that might show up or not when they need a ride, especially in an unfamiliar area or after dark.
  7. In general, an Uber ride costs less that a taxicab.
  8. Seniors don’t have to carry cash to pay for a ride, since they are charged via the app.
  9. In non-urban settings, there are many fewer options for seniors to get around. Uber is often found in areas where other public transportation is nonexistent.

A new wrinkle on the Uber market is that seniors who are retired and want a little something to do are becoming Uber drivers. They can earn a little extra money and do it when they want.

Uber has announced that they will provide free classes for seniors who want to connect to the technology required to get Uber rides. They have also agreed to provide free rides for seniors at specific senior centers and retirement communities in certain cities as part of some pilot program partnerships.

Uber ASSIST

If your senior loved one has a disability that requires a little help to get into and out of the car, needs a wheelchair or other device, Uber ASSIST can be selected on the smartphone app that will give you a specially trained driver who can help your senior loved one with the transfer. They are also trained to handle and store their device.

Your senior just needs to select the ASSIST in the promotions section of the app. The cost of this special service is the same as a ride chosen from UberX.

There are other ridesharing services depending on the area of the country where your senior resides.

One rideshare service located in San Francisco, Lift Hero, is designed specifically for seniors. More rideshare services are available including Shuddle (for kids and seniors), Lyft and Sidecar.

Future of Transportation

What if some of our seniors live in an area of the country where there is no public transportation established (or it doesn’t go where they need to go) or there is no company running a ridesharing program?

Worse yet, they have no nearby family caregivers who can drive them to important destinations — or don’t want to rely on family?

There is one organization, actually a coalition called Transportation for America (T4 America), working to encourage the federal government to use tax dollars to create transportation systems that will work for everyone. T4 America believes the number of Americans who are aging in place will need an alternative transportation system to help them maintain their independence. Lacking a system to get where they have to and want to go will result in isolation, economic hardship and a reduced quality of life.

The Department of Transportation does provide some support for states to improve rural transit for seniors and people with disabilities but the need for rural public transportation is growing.

Metropolitan areas have begun to recognize and work toward meeting the mobility needs of seniors with improving public transportation access to buses, vans, jitneys, ridesharing, ferries, trains and also becoming walkable cities where pedestrians are safe to walk.

Suburban and rural locations will have to get creative with solutions that meet the needs of their seniors by adopting best practices, such as partnering with community organizations.

Hopefully all seniors in need will be able to gain access to some form of transportation to allow them to stay in the home and city of their dreams living independently and happily!


17 Responses to Uber Can Give Seniors Their Wheels, Flexibility and Independence Back

  1. Uber Assist is one solution for the older adult transportation problem. They’re just starting out and hope it takes off and becomes a viable ride option for those who cannot drive.

  2. I am interested in seeing how Uber can be utilized for aging and disabled persons in our region – 12 rural counties in East Texas. Currently, 6 of these counties have no means of public transportation – only Medicaid transportation – we have no providers. I am the director of the Area Agency on Aging and the Aging and Disability Resource Center for Deep East Texas. Thanks,

    • Holly, Uber for Seniors was beginning a pilot project in certain cities (probably larger ones) transporting elders to senior centers for free. This is definitely an unmet need across the country. Rural areas are hardest hit with little if any transportation options for aging citizens. We suggest you reach out to Uber and see what might be planned or available through their network and get the conversation going to see if it would work for your area. There are other options for ride sharing such as Lyft and GoGoGrandparent that are also transportation options for seniors. They are using non-smartphone means to call a ride and partnering with companies such as GreatCall and Home Care Assistance to meet needs of seniors. Good luck!

  3. Can someone else from a remote location book a ride for a senior with disability? Is there a way to do it without a smartphone?

    • Dana, you can book rides via a computer on their website: m.uber.com. You would need to relay any info like name of driver, type of car, etc to your senior so they are informed. This is according to Uber: you can go to this address http://m.uber.com and as long as your laptop has location services on and working, this is a work around. You can call an uber using its mobile site as well. You need to be online to request an Uber, you can’t request one while offline. You can use the app or m.uber.com. Also, another person can use the app to request a ride for someone else. Check out their website for more info.

  4. I would like to know how a home health agency that places aids in the home can work with Uber for their clients benefits. Many do not have cell phone and or internet service, but aids do have cell phones.
    Thank you,
    Jane Klein
    Partner Personal Med Management Inc.

    • Best idea would be to contact a ride sharing company in your location and discuss opportunities directly. Uber and Lyft are accommodating people without cell phones by using apps that are computer based not just smartphone based. If your clients have access to tablets that can download apps, they can call a ride. Good luck.

  5. Is there any way I can call uber to get some other questions answered? I don’t really know how this ride sharing works. Also I just wanted to know if by having a seniors card, I could get a discount or pay less for my rides? So can I call uber & get someone live to answer my questions?

    • Gloria, have you checked out Uber.com? They have information about their specific services as well as a “Help” link at the bottom of their website.
      They are a ride sharing company meaning you call them via app on smartphone or computer to request pick up. They have programs with senior centers and restaurants to provide transportation and deliver meals as some of the partnerships they are developing. They are but one of many ride sharing companies so you may want to check out a few more in your city. Good luck!

  6. Hi There My Mother and Myself are Seniors my Mom is Ninety and I am Sixty Nine year Oldman we are the Survivors of a Family of Five ,My Father sister and my younger Brother have all passed Away, we both do not drive or can afford a car in order to get to the Market to buy food or other needs, My mom having a bone disease and also Diabetes and I having issues with Dpression and Anxitey makes it hard for me to help her and I too appts etc. I can run some errands for us but the time is here that things are harder do and Not having a Job Chef. at this time has been a Chalenge.

    • Frank thanks for sharing your challenges as we know you are not alone. There are many seniors and family caregivers who have trouble with transportation. If you are able to access the internet, you might be able to order groceries online to be delivered to your door. You can also have meals delivered such as pizza delivery but now all types of restaurants do this. If not, having home care workers help with these types of tasks could be helpful for you and your mother. Good luck!

  7. The area I live in give seniors/special needs adults a$5.00 discount card to be used for transportation.

    Taxi cabs accept them and it makes most rides cheaper then Uber.

    Will Uber accept them? If so how do you use it?

    • That sounds like a great perk for seniors although I imaging $5 off gets only one ride. Can you get the card frequently or once? Where are you located? I hope many seniors in your area know about that in order to participate. Uber drivers probably have no way to accept that discount, but it is worth contacting Uber to request they honor it. Thanks for sharing Ellyn!

  8. Kathy,
    I have been on Uber.com and there is no place to talk to some one about the senior discount cards. Once again, I compared the price of Uber with that of the taxi cab and even without the $5.00 discount, Uber was still 60 cents higher.

    • Ellyn, sometimes it is hard to determine which transportation works best for you. Perhaps cost is a key factor but accessibility and service may be worth a little extra money. We have no affiliation with Uber or Lyft to be able to answer your specific question about contacting them. Most seniors must rely on family or friends, public transportation, taxis, shuttles, or ride sharing to get where they need to go. If mobility is an issue, your office on aging may be able to set you up with medical transport to see the doctor. Depending on your location, public transportation can be lacking. Some city dwellers have better access than rural seniors. Transportation continues to be a real problem for seniors. Love to hear what you find with your transportation situation.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!




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