The ability to get around town to take care or errands, visit friends and family, and participate in fun events and activities is something many of us take for granted until it becomes more difficult. Community mobility is often a big part of preserving independence and enjoying daily life. In areas where public transportation may not be overly safe or easily accessible, it can be challenging to find viable transportation options without a driver’s license, especially in the midst of a pandemic like Covid-19.
Losing A Driver’s License
Adjusting to life without a driver’s license can be extremely challenging for a lot of older adults. People aged 65 and over tend to live outside urban areas where public transportation is readily accessible. This makes it harder to get around without a car. However, people over 70 have the highest accident rate of any age group aside from young males.
Therefore, it is a concern for general public safety that results in many seniors having their driver’s license revoked before they are ready to give it up. When it comes time for older adults to give up their license for safety reasons, it can seem like a significant detriment to independent living. Options are further reduced with social distancing restrictions in place.
Ontario Driving Requirements
To hold a valid driver’s license in Ontario, several requirements must be met to comply with competence and safety. For instance, a license can be suspended if a healthcare professional like a doctor or optometrist feels there is an existing condition that impairs the ability to drive safely and effectively.
Once seniors reach the age of 80, an exam must be taken every 2 years in order to renew their license. This includes a vision test, written exam, education session, and in some cases a road test. At the time of these exams seniors are obligated to disclose any medical conditions that may impact driving ability and performance.
Senior Transportation Services
All hope is not lost for older adults that are no longer able to get behind the wheel. There are several possibilities for seniors to get around without a driver’s license. Losing a license can be a tough blow to deal with, and can lead to isolation and depression without practical alternatives.
Generally the most practical and affordable transportation alternative to a driver’s license is using local public transit. While public transit typically runs more frequently and extensively in larger cities, it can also be a reliable means of transportation in small to medium sized towns. Getting familiar with the local transit system can be an effective way to get around town for errands, activities, and visiting. Public transit routes and schedules will likely be altered with Covid-19 restrictions but are still accessible in most areas.
Senior Travel Training
For seniors that may be hesitant about public transit, there are travel training programs that work directly with older adults to take some of the fear and worry out of public transportation. These free programs help seniors figure out schedules and costs associated with public transit and provide information about senior discounts.
Specialized Senior Transportation
Most communities offer some type of transportation service that is specialized for senior travel. The objective is to provide a safe and affordable option for seniors to get groceries and get to appointments.
Friends And Family
While it may not seem like the most independent option, friends and family members can be leaned on to provide rides as often as they are able. During the Covid-19 pandemic, friends and family will be relied more heavily for transportation support.
Home Care Assistance
Professional home care agencies can also provide senior transportation services as well as a variety of other useful benefits to assist older adults with daily living. Home caregivers can help seniors with routines and errands and offer accompaniment to appointments to maintain health, independence, and quality of life. With Covid-19 stay at home orders in effect, home care services may be the only option for seniors to get the care and assistance they need.