Research is increasingly demonstrating that social isolation and loneliness, especially in older age, isn’t merely a sad commentary on a overly busy or self-involved society. Being isolated from others can have a direct impact on health, well-being and longevity.
And while many seniors want to stay in their homes and face aging in place, when transportation becomes an issue, elderly adults living alone can sometimes go days or even weeks without regular social contact. With nobody to notice, isolated seniors can begin to skip meals, lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, miss doctor appointments and generally lose their vitality.
Nearly a third of American seniors over the age of 65 live alone and half of those over 85 are on their own. So it’s not surprising that the number of adults who report feeling lonely has doubled since the 1980’s, according to a recent report in the New York Times.
And while cuts to programs such as Meals on Wheels may signal a lack of concern for the welfare of aging Americans, pilot programs like SilverRide out of San Francisco are helping to meet the needs of a greying population.
Much like Uber or Lyft, SilverRide provides on-demand rides but with an important twist. Drivers receive special training to meet the needs of older adults who may have physical or cognitive impairment. According to a recent Forbes magazine report, drivers also undergo background checks and submit to random drug testing.
With SilverRide, passengers can expect help right to their door or their destination and the company collects emergency contact information and notes about client preferences.
Although at present SilverRide only operates in the San Francisco Bay Area, owner Jeff Maltz, hopes to expand the service in other cities across the United States. Providing home-bound seniors with access to transportation with trained drivers could open up a whole new world for older adults. To learn more visit www.silverride.com .
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