With warmer summer weather and COVID restrictions easing, many older adults are enjoying the opportunity to move outside their bubble and visit stores, restaurants, parks, and friends and family. But for seniors who no longer drive, reliable, affordable transportation continues to be an issue especially when public services are unavailable or difficult to access. But a new AAA free ride-sharing pilot program for people over the age of 65 may soon provide alternatives for seniors to re-engage in their communities.
Social isolation is now considered as harmful to health and well-being as many chronic illnesses and the past year has shone a spotlight on how damaging loneliness can be for people, especially older adults with mobility problems. As the world gradually opens us with the distribution of novel coronavirus vaccines, many seniors still struggle to find safe and affordable means of transportation.
According to a recent Ohio News Times report, ‘Round Town will start offering free transportation in Toledo as part of a new pilot project. The vans will be accessible for the disabled and seniors using a wheelchair. Drivers will have training to help riders on and off the vehicle and will be thoroughly screened to ensure passengers are safe.
Seniors can call to schedule rides at 833-238-2546 or by using the SHARE Mobility app. Rides will be free for the first three months and will later require a reasonable membership free that keeps the service affordable for seniors living on a fixed income. If the pilot ride sharing program is a success and gains enough membership, it is anticipated that ‘Round Town will expand to other communities.
The program is not designed for medical appointments but rather to help seniors stay active members of their communities and prevent social isolation. According to AAA, transportation is an important factor that influences longevity and good health. As the elderly population grows rapidly over the next 10 to 20 years, implementing mobility services now to help seniors age more successfully will be increasingly valuable.