For many seniors who have decided to age in place despite the challenges, transportation for the elderly is a big issue. Disabilities like limited mobility or low vision may make driving impossible or dangerous, and owning a car is a big expense if it serves only for a few errands weekly. In the Atlanta area, many seniors who are aging in place are looking for low-cost ways to do their errands safely each week and community and government organizations are responding with gusto. For persons in the Atlanta Metro area who are looking for ways to help elders live safely and independently, here are some ways to get transportation from A to B without much hassle.
In 2010, Fulton County, which includes metro Atlanta, launched "Dial-A-Ride Transportation Services," or DARTS. Using this program, seniors 55 or more can contact organizations at the Fulton County Office of Aging and receive this service free. Case managers determine eligibility and make appointments for pickup on buses, which drop off seniors at various locations to allow time to buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, visit the library or run other errands.
The buses can handle wheelchairs and other accessibility equipment, thus making it safe and easy for seniors with various disabilities. Seniors can make appointments as early as 8:00 AM and expect to be back home by no later than 5:00 PM.
Some seniors and their caregivers are looking for solutions to the dilemma of transportation for the elderly. Private organizations in Atlanta, such as Atlanta Senior Assistant, are planning to provide that service. Prices vary depending on the organization and type of services provided. Some of them are at fairly low cost to seniors and their caregivers. They offer transportation to grocery stores, doctors, and veterinary offices, and for social activities, which are vital to stave off depression and health issues for seniors.
For seniors who do not live in Fulton County, MARTA, the public transportation service in Atlanta, that has bus and train services, offers inexpensive transportation for persons with disabilities. The cost is about$3.50 per ride and extends transportation times into the later evening for senior night owls if needed. The benefits of using MARTA Mobility include special driving services for adults with disabilities, which do not add to the cost of the fare. It also means that the entire area of Atlanta is open for visiting, including festivals, concerts, restaurants, shopping centers, and more.
Counties not served by MARTA, includingGwinnett, Cobb and Cherokee, also offer public transit. Low cost, reliable public transit may be used to get to MARTA from the suburbs to get further into the urban center or go to shopping malls, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Some counties also offer transportation vouchers, such as Gwinnett County's Project Get in Gear, which helps qualified seniors with rides offering more personal services, such as door-to-door transportation and help to get into and out of a vehicle from the door of a home or building.
Other counties, such as Henry and Cherokee, offer transportation for the elderly in the form of curb-to-curb services for seniors. Other Metro Atlanta counties offer it regionally. Online resources and phones at county and city government offices can identify what services are available in a specific area. Nearly all the services listed in this section require prequalification, so seniors must contact county governments to determine if they qualify for them.
Many faith-based groups often offer community services to seniors. Either in their local community or by reaching out to seniors in their congregation, these and other nonprofit organizations frequently have ways to transport seniors in their area, depending on the region and organization. Contacting churches and nonprofit organizations in an area will yield accurate information. Many churches provide handicap-friendly buses or vans at no cost to seniors and their caregivers.
(Editor's Note: This is part of an occasional series in which seniorsmatter.com focuses on the services provided in a community that serves vital needs of seniors. Here, we highlight the transportation services for seniors offered in Atlanta Area. We welcome your suggestions about noteworthy services offered by other communities for seniors.)
Atlanta Area Agency on Aging. Mobility and Transportation Options. AgeWise Connection. Available at http://www.agewiseconnection.com/services/transportation. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
Atlanta Regional Commission. Transportation Options. Atlanta Regional Commission. Available at http://www.atlantaregional.com/aging-resources/lifelong-communities/transportation-options. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
Atlanta Senior Assistant. Available at http://atlantaseniorassistant.com/. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
Eldercare.gov. Transportation Options for Older Adults. ElderCare.gov. Available at http://www.eldercare.gov/ELDERCARE.NET/Public/Resources/Brochures/docs/Trans_Options_Panels.pdf. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
FultonCountyGA.gov. Frequently Asked Questions about the Dial-A-Ride Transportation Services (DARTS) Program. Fulton County Government. Available at http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/images/stories/Human%20Services%20Department/DARTSFAQ2webVersion.pdf. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
FultonCountyGA.gov. Fulton County Launches Dial-A-Ride Transportation Services for Seniors. Fulton County Government. Available at http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/latest-news/3276-fulton-county-launches-dial-a-ride-for-seniors. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
Georgia.gov. Getting Where You Need To Go. Division of Aging Services. Available at http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/getting-where-you-need-go. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
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