Transportation Options for Older Adults

Your parents’ car. Your first bicycle with two wheels. Your first car. Your train trip across Europe as a young adult. Your daily commute on the bus. Your New Year’s Eve early morning taxi rides. Your family trips in the camper van. Your plane trip to the Caribbean, and the cruise you took there. Your child’s first car. Your cute little sports car – a retirement present to yourself!

Transportation is a huge part of life in the modern age – it’s one of the ways we connect with each other, build experiences, make memories, get our jobs done, take care of our needs, and just plain enjoy ourselves. A hundred years ago, it would be hard for the average person to imagine how much transportation would change and how many options we’d have, and how many places we’d want to go.

Most adults don’t think twice about transportation, beyond deciding whether to drive to work or take the bus, whether to indulge in a drive to the store versus a walk, or whether to choose to vacation locally, or travel to another destination. Yet as we age, and our health changes, transportation options take on more significance, and sometimes, anxiety. For some, a move from a rural setting into a retirement community in a more urban area opens up new possibilities for bussing, walking and cycling. For others, changing health conditions can result in the loss of a license, or a reduction in the ability to drive in varying conditions. This can be a highly impacting experience – a disruption to routine, a perceived loss of control and freedom, and a source of anxiety as to how to meet needs.

Luckily, with a little planning, there are still many transportation options for those who wish to reduce the use of their car, or replace it. This article will highlight options available at Luther Village on the Park. Similar options may be available in urban and rural areas across Canada.

Grand River Transit (Bus) – Luther Village on the Park is served by a few city buses including Route 12 (Father David Bauer near Westmount), Route 8 (Westmount near Erb), and Route 5 (Erb near Roslin). Although the bus can be challenging for those with certain mobility or cognitive limitations, it is also an inexpensive and convenient way to move around the city for those who are able to use it. To learn more about bus routes and schedules for Waterloo Region, please go to: http://www.grt.ca/en/routesschedules/routesandschedules.asp.

MobilityPLUS – This service, which offers pre-booked bus trips for those with mobility challenges, is available in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge for those who meet certain criteria. For more information, go to http://www.grt.ca/en/accessibility/mobilityplusservice.asp.

TaxiSCRIP – This service offers taxi coupons to MobilityPLUS members. For more info: http://www.grt.ca/en/riderprograms/taxiscrip.asp.

Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Service – Most taxi companies offer wheelchair accessible vehicles. Call first to make sure!

CarShare – Waterloo Region is fortunate to have the Community CarShare program. This program allows those who wish to have access to a car, but don’t need it all the time, to share a car with others. Members have access to cars parked all over the city, and can book online. Cars can be booked by the half hour, or for longer periods. For more info, please see  http://communitycarshare.ca/.

Westmount Pharmacy “Free Ride” – Luther Village residents may take advantage of a van that comes by both the Sunshine Centre and Atrium entrances every Friday at approximately 9:45 am to escort residents to the nearby Westmount Pharmacy. For more information, please speak to a staff member at the Front Desk by calling 519-783-3710.

Less formally, many people develop relationships with friends and neighbours to carpool or provide rides for each other. It’s easy to worry that we are a burden on others when we ask for help, but we needn’t be shy about asking – and it may be that we can offer something in exchange, even if it is just our companionship during the ride (or money for gas!).

If you are a Luther Village resident and you would like to discuss these or other transportation options, please speak with Joy Hancock, Wellness Coordinator, by calling 519-783-3710, extension 2009.