This week I asked Gregory Peebles to talk about the topic of ridesharing from the vantage point of his experience. Gregory is both a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) whose work focuses on helping aging adults and folks with limited independence by providing resources and support to help them discover and lead their best life. An Associate Care Manager, Gregory has been a part of my team for over a decade. – Charlotte
Ask any teenager in the US, and they’ll tell you when a person becomes a functional adult. The legal driving age in our country is 16, and the license signals independence, freedom, and increased responsibility, including driving to and from a new job. Conversely, it seems also that when it’s time to “give up the keys” we finally start to come face-to-face with the reality that our time as a sovereign individual is finite. Becoming a “rider” instead of a “driver” signals dependence, limited options, and isolation.
Getting out of the driver’s seat doesn’t mean all the fun is over, though. The US is just a culture of drivers, and when we lose that one identity, if we don’t substitute another healthy vision of ourselves, we experience unnecessary loss and grief. For example, aging adults stop driving for all kinds of reasons. Because it’s a big conversation, at CCM, we have tended to focus on the cognitive decline aspect, but loss of night vision, reduced hearing, and prescription side effects are still among the top reasons that seniors become “riders.” That means that there are plenty of folks with a lot of life left who may be sitting at home trying to fill the day with meaning when they could be in the world connecting. Caregiver schedules are already often stretched to breaking, so asking for a ride from a caregiver to go to something “fun” is much less likely than securing the ride to a medical appointment.
Ridesharing services continue to cover more ground, and in our Chicagoland area, Lyft and Über are the most visible brands offering service.
Here are 5 things you should know as you consider ridesharing for your older loved one:
- It’s safe. – While safety comes down to the specifics of the driver, vehicle, and driving environment, of the two main rideshare choices, Lyft “vets” drivers and vehicles most strenuously. Problems with either service provider however are statistically very low.
- You don’t have to have a smart phone to benefit from ride sharing. – If you have a technology-loving senior in your care, that’s awesome, but many seniors balk at the idea of a smartphone. So how could they benefit from a service that requires the technology? Your smartphone. You can set the pickup and destination in the app.
- You keep some control. – There’s a map to follow, so if you’re a worrier, there’s visual evidence of where the car is coming from, when it picks up your loved one, and when they have arrived at their destination. You can keep doing what you need to do while staying connected.
- It’s usually cheaper than a cab. – Depending on the time of day and how in-demand drivers are (rush hours tend to trigger “surge pricing”), the cost can be as little as $8 for a significant distance. A line share (like a carpool) can bring that price down even to $5.
- Client assistance is common. – Though it’s not in the contract, drivers are used to helping passengers with luggage or other inconveniences. Your loved one needing a little extra help probably won’t be a problem. However, if you’re truly worried about it, GoGo Grandparent (https://gogograndparent.com) is prepared to help more than Lyft or Über might be. They also make deliveries and will schedule a pick-up, where most rideshares are more spontaneous.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.