More than one in five older Americans are no longer able to drive, and more than half of them stay home because they lack transportation options, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Even if public transportation is available, many seniors are unable to get to a bus stop or subway station or may need wheelchair accessibility. And being unable to get out and connect with other people creates isolation, which research shows can be detrimental to health.
In 2015, the city of Gainesville, Fla., and a local eldercare network partnered with Uber to launch Freedom in Motion, a pilot program that provides subsidized rides for seniors to help solve a senior transportation crisis. Funded by a city grant, the program allows seniors living in certain areas to pay $1 to $5 per ride, based on their income levels.
Here are five ways Uber can be beneficial for senior riders:
Access Reliable Transportation
In many areas, public transportation is unavailable or inconvenient for older residents, and hailing a taxi may not always be possible or comfortable for seniors. But with a ride-sharing app like Uber, a senior rider can request a ride through the app and track the driver’s location on the map while waiting to be picked up, as well as see the driver’s identity before getting into the vehicle. And of course, the driver can pick up a rider at whatever location is most convenient.
Explore the City
Access to reliable transportation can be life-changing for a person who is essentially housebound. Suddenly with Uber, there’s a lot more opportunity to see beyond the view from their own windows. Seniors can try a new restaurant, shop at a farmer’s market, and visit friends at community centers. Seniors on limited budgets can even use uberPOOL to save money and share rides to their next destination. It also has the added benefit of meeting new people, which can only add to a great day.
Get Outside and Stay Active
Staying home and being isolated can contribute to high blood pressure, depression, and a number of other negative health outcomes. But ride-sharing offers opportunities for seniors to combat those issues by getting outside, breathing fresh air, and being active. Getting exercise can help older adults enhance balance and prevent falls, as well as help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, and other health problems, according to the World Health Organization.
Learn New Technology
As the world becomes increasingly technology-focused, people keep in touch with each other and build relationships through social media, mobile apps, and texting. Many seniors who aren’t tech-savvy miss out on these.