Uber drivers often joke that nowadays almost half of their passengers are older adults, and so they know the locations of all the grocery stores and physicians like the back of their hand. The rising number of seniors using Uber isn’t just an urban myth though, as the company itself has noticed the new demographic actively seeking rides all across the country. Uber even released a video encouraging the elderly to give the service a try. But the fact of the matter is that seniors have long since realized the benefits of hiring a quick ride into town. Doing so not only helps them save time and effort, but also helps them stay independent.
The Dangers of Immobilization for the Elderly
Driving becomes a risky business when people enter their golden years. Despite having years of experience handling a car, older adults have dampened reflexes that are often coupled with other symptoms such as impaired hearing or forgetfulness. Some seniors are downright frightened when they are at the wheel, but giving up on the car has consequences far beyond decreased mobility.
By forgoing a convenient method of transportation, aging adults start a downward spiral of isolation; they refuse to leave home unless one of their family members volunteers to pick them up. This stubborn behavior could lead to depression as social interactions start to diminish, while their physical health also suffers since they can’t go shopping on a regular basis. Statistics even show that elderly residents who are unable to drive miss 15% of their medical appointments.
Uber, the Perfect Substitute for a Car
Since Uber eliminates the feeling of being grounded, it comes as no surprise that it has become so popular among an aging demographic. The service is affordable even for seniors who live on a tight budget; the elderly person has a companion along the ride they can talk to; and the driver knows the best way to the destination so the aging passenger won’t get lost. There are even some elderly people who are still driving that use the service to earn some extra money. The biggest requirement to access Uber is, of course, a smartphone and the aging users usually ask one of their tech-savvy relatives to download the app and show them how to order a quick ride.
Senior-Centric Uber Alternatives
As more and more seniors travel with the help of Uber, they are also vocalizing their concerns. The biggest issue is that the service delivers barely enough information about the driver or ride, with elderly passengers demanding a thorough background check. They also tend to misuse the app, ditching the automated location pinging system and instead calling the driver to explain their current position. Lyft is a strong competitor of Uber and a good alternative to try, but there is another newcomer who offers the same service as Uber but exclusively for seniors. Lift Hero allows the aging users to book a ride by calling a live operator, similar to the process of contacting a medical alert staff member. Speaking with another human is more important for seniors, not to mention the fact that operators can help them to better plan the road trip.
A Convenient Safety Net for Uber Riding Seniors
The biggest problem with services such as Lift Hero or Uber is that the elderly person might end up at an unknown location or get lost on their way back home. We highly recommend that aging passengers take their mobile medical alert system with them for additional peace of mind. Active seniors who like being on the move will find that a mobile medical alert pendant that uses a cellular connection is the best option for them. Such devices not only protect them if they fall, but also feature GPS tracking so that the monitoring agents can pinpoint the senior’s location. This feature comes handy when booking a ride with Uber.
Another viable option that combines the safety of personal emergency response with the convenience of using a ride-sharing service like Uber is GreatCall’s Jitterbug Smart. This smartphone was designed to fit the need of seniors and it supports the Uber application too, combining the best of both worlds.