As we age, it can become more difficult to get around easily. As seniors move from modes of self-sufficient transportation to relying on others for their getting around town, a new set of challenges arises.
For many seniors, family members provide transportation to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store. For those without family in town, it’s much more of a challenge to get around town. For some, family members may not be reliable and what was once an easy chore of jumping in the car and driving is now much more difficult.
Public transportation can be a great option depending on where you live, but coverage is spotty in many areas of town.
If you’re a senior, and you need to get to the doctor or to the grocery, what do you do?
The simple act of visiting a friend or making that routine follow-up appointment suddenly becomes a monumental challenge.
Transportation for Seniors in Hamilton County
Hamilton County, Indiana has a few transportation options that aren’t available in other communities. Below, we will walk through the ways that seniors can get around and maintain their mobility with as little cost as possible.
Finding a ride with a family member is the most economical option, but it’s not an option for everyone. Family members that can help with transportation if they’re local or close to their loved ones, but for many seniors, this simply isn’t an option due to distance.
Most seniors don’t want their family to miss work unless they have to, and many family members may not have jobs that allow them the flexibility to come and go as needed.
Seniors want their independence and don’t want to have to rely on other people if it’s at all possible as they age. Most of us don’t want to inconvenience people, and having family provide the primary way to get around town can be a challenge.
While this is the most cost-effective means for transportation, it’s not for everyone.
Caregivers are usually a spouse or a loved one that are tasked with caring for another senior. Many caregivers can provide transportation as needed depending on their ability to drive.
The caregiver may be up to the task of helping the senior get around town, but in some cases, other means of transportation are needed.
Some health aides may function as a type of caregiver, helping the senior get to doctors appointments and to the grocery store.
Where some health aides may struggle to help is getting the senior to clubs, activities and events like church or other social events.
Public transportation is a popular way to help a senior get around town, if public transportation is available in the area.
Many cities across the United States don’t have active public transportation options due to budget cuts and a lack of funding.
Another challenge to public transportation is decreased mobility in the senior population. Many seniors find it a challenge to navigate the steps required to get in and out of a large bus.
Volunteer Transportation Programs:
In Hamilton County, there is an option for volunteer transportation for seniors. Janus Transportation partners with the Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County to offer the Shopper’s Shuttle service.
The shopper’s shuttle runs 3 times per month on the following schedule.
- Sheridan – Second Thursday of each month. The shuttle brings seniors into Noblesville to Walmart for 90 minutes and then they take them home and carry their groceries into the house.
- Carmel & Westfield – Third Wednesday of each month. The shuttle brings seniors into town to Walmart or Meijer for 90 minutes and then return home and carry groceries into the house.
- Noblesville – Fourth Wednesday of the month. The shuttle brings seniors into Noblesville to Walmart for 90 minutes of shopping, and then return seniors to their home and helps carry groceries inside.
There is no charge to seniors to take advantage of the shopper’s shuttle. Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County covers the cost of this transportation program.
Getting a taxi ride is another option for seniors to get around town, but in many cases it can be cost prohibitive. With cost per trip, per mile and with a charge for waiting, the cost of a taxi can be quite high for a simple trip to the grocery store.
Rideshare Programs (Uber/Lyft):
With the popularity of rideshare programs like Uber and Lyft making their way into primary transportation methods, we’d be remiss to leave them out of our guide.
The challenge that many seniors having a ride with rideshare programs is having the drivers need to fold up walkers and other assistance devices. For many seniors, this can be uncomfortable, and cause this to not be a preferred transportation method.
A newcomer to the rideshare program is called GoGoGrandparent. Priced much like a taxi service, it has a base cost of $3.40 with an additional $.81 per mile and $.15 per minute.
Riverview Health Rides:
Riverview affiliated doctor appointments are free with Riverview Health Rides. This service is a door to door service, and the driver will help seniors get from the house to the van at pickup.
Drivers then assist seniors into the doctor’s office or wherever they need to go. The cost is only $5 for the round trip.
If the senior is on Medicaid, Riverview waives the cost of the trip. The program costs $5 to get to the appointment and no charge for the return trip.
Hamilton County Express:
The Hamilton County Express is the only public transportation service across the entire county. There is a fleet of small busses that ferry passengers all across the county for a small fee.
To ride on the Hamilton County Express, you must call to set up an appointment and they will come and pick you up. The cost is $3 each way.
It is sometimes difficult during peak times to get a ride with the Hamilton County Express, because they’re serving all of Hamilton County. The program currently has to turn down about 800 ride requests per month due to a shortage of available vehicles.
Calling 2 weeks in advance is the best way to ensure that a senior can get a ride.
If you let the schedulers at Hamilton County Express know that you have a flexible time, the dispatchers will do everything they can to schedule you during a less busy time.
Busses run from 6am to 6pm daily. The least busy time is from 10am to noon, and is usually the best time to ensure you can get a ride.
The Hamilton County Express is a curb to curb transportation, meaning that all riders must be able to get out of the house and to the curb without assistance from the driver.
Senior Transportation in Hamilton County
While there are many options for transportation for seniors within Hamilton County, Indiana, the best way is to contact the Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County to see what options are currently available.
With new programs and offerings being added all the time, you never know what the Shepherd’s Center might have as a solution to fit your need.