How would today be different if you couldn’t drive a car? How would you get where you’re going for a day, a month, or even longer? This is the daunting question an individual faces if they are unable to drive.
The key to getting around without a car is to become more resourceful. What tools or strategies do you have at your disposal which can smooth this transmission from driver to passenger? Who do you know who could lend advice, ideas, or assistance to meet your parent’s changing needs? If you’re planning a conversation with your parent about retiring the keys, be prepared with a list of alternative transportation resources. That alone can make the conversation more positive and constructive.
Think about the places your parent may need to go this week – such as to the grocery store, religious services, to a family gathering, or to a medical appointment – and consider the easy and obvious option of ride-sharing. Could Mom ride along to the grocery store with her neighbor during their weekly shopping trip? Maybe a fellow church member could pick her up on their way?
In addition to family and friends who may be able to offer rides, there are a variety of community resources which may be able to help. Here’s a good starting point: www.delawaremobility.com. This new website is your guide to transportation throughout Delaware County. It contains links to information such as taxis, bus services and a variety of local agencies which offer transportation assistance.
Speaking of buses, have you tried DATA? DATA is Delaware County’s own public transit system. These are the small yellow buses that you see circulating our community. Some believe DATA serves only older people or those with disabilities – not true! DATA exists to serve all of us.
I rode DATA back and forth to work for a few weeks when my car was out of service, and here’s what I found – friendly drivers, convenient routes, comfortable buses with bike racks and wheelchair lifts, and extremely affordable fixed routes. Even my fellow passengers were friendly and eager to help me understand how to use the DATA bus system!
If you’re trying to convince your parents to consider using DATA, why not go for a ride together and check it out? DATA offers not only pre-set routes but also on-demand service, which can take riders exactly where they need to go. If your parent needs help with the cost of on-demand DATA rides, ask them about the “Bus Bucks” program, which is funded by SourcePoint. For route information or to get in touch with the very helpful DATA staff, check out their web site: http://www.ridedata.com.
If your parent lives in Delaware County and needs transportation to medical and social service appointments, or for taking care of household errands, call SourcePoint. We have an entire team of community volunteers who can pick them up in their personal vehicles, drive them to their destinations, and bring them safely home. SourcePoint’s transportation volunteers have completed a thorough background check, and our staff has verified their driving record and auto insurance coverage. (Our staff makes sure we would entrust our own parents to our volunteers’ safe keeping, before making them available to assist yours!) Volunteer transportation services are available free of charge to SourcePoint’s clients.
If your parent has decided it’s time to retire the keys, here’s one last piece of advice. Remember that with decreased transportation comes an increased risk of isolation. Fewer trips away from home means fewer opportunities to socialize and engage with family and friends, and isolated older adults are at higher risk for mental and physical decline, depression, high blood pressure, long-term illness, dementia and more. So be sure to check in with older family members frequently, and offer to include them in your outings and errands. Or better yet, take a drive together and come check out SourcePoint. We have hundreds of ways to help your parents enjoy themselves and stay engaged – and we’re on the DATA bus route.
If you have any questions related to senior driving, please call and speak with a member of our professional staff. SourcePoint’s mission is to help our community live well after 55, and when we can’t assist with your aging-related needs directly, we can almost always refer you to an agency or business which can be of service. With any question regarding aging, we hope you’ll think of us as your first resource for advice and assistance. The number to call is 740-363-6677, or visit us online at www.MySourcePoint.org.
Stephanie Steinbeck is director of communications & development at SourcePoint.
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