She can't afford a half a day off. Is there help available?

Getting Elderly Mom to the Doctor's Office

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Getting Elderly Mom to the Doctor's Office

My mom is in her 80s and doesn't drive anymore. She uses a wheelchair and needs help getting to her various doctor's appointments. I can't afford to take a half a day off every time she has an appointment. She's tried some senior transport services but doesn't really like them. A friend suggested I find a college student who would like to make some money. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

Semi-Retired Could Help Mom

The easiest solution is to hire someone to drive your mother as needed. Often you can find an older adult who is semi-retired who wants to earn a few dollars. I recommend this over a college kid because they are more settled and likely to be around for a long time. One of my friends does this for someone in our congregation. Your place of worship may be a good starting point. It is likely your mother and the driver will know each other.

Make Special Arrangements

I read about this tip online a few months ago. Another lady had the same problem and came up with the idea of her mom using cabs, but with a nice twist.

She spoke to the head of the cab company and explained the situation. She asked if it would be possible for her mom to have the same drivers. In other words, each shift would have a driver just for her calls, depending on time of day. She then made arrangements for a discount to be paid once per month.

Her mom would have the same driver, depending, of course, on the time of day she called. Therefore, she would be more comfortable.

Mom Needs an Advocate for Doctors

Aging parents need an advocate with them when going to doctors. To help make that possible, work to schedule appointments on the same day. It is better to find doctors to accommodate you than delegate mom to someone who will just deliver her.

Ask for Help Getting Mom to the Doctor

Ask friends, relatives, fellow church or club members, etc. if they know anyone who might be interested in becoming your mother's driver. You never know who has spare time and the interest in helping others. I knew a man who would take friends to their appointments because he was retired and had the time. Also, he just loved being around people. You would have to pay for the driver's gasoline and possibly a little tip per trip, but maybe Mom would make a new friend. By asking people you know to ask people they know, you are increasing the pool of potential drivers. Naturally, you would need references for a driver unless it is someone you already know well.

A Ministry Could Help

I had a similar situation a couple of years ago. After sharing my dilemma with a woman at church, she told me about a ministry at my church made up of two women who wanted to give to others by driving older people to appointments. Check with your church or a local church/organization to see if there is a similar ministry.

Contact the Adult Resource Center in Your Town

I know your mom doesn't like senior transport services, but try contacting the Adult Resource Center in your town. It's a government agency and may be called something different where you live. Often, they have resources of volunteers who may be seniors themselves that offer to do driving for other seniors. They tend to be more reliable and may be more fun for your mother to ride with. She may be able to make a friend, too! They do have younger volunteers, too, but the idea is to establish a relationship rather than a service that has different people all the time. Try it and see what you can find.

Give Feedback and Try Again

I'm disabled myself, so maybe I can help. Most counties that have public bus transportation also have "Gold Service." This is a door-to-door service to the disabled for a reasonable price. The buses and drivers are especially designed and trained to work with the elderly and disabled, although occasionally they use subcontracted services. Either way, if the service isn't pleasant, thoughtful and attentive to her needs, the office wants to know, so they can fix it. If that's who she tried but didn't like, I'd suggest she try again and let them know if things aren't up to par.

It Will Be Costly!

I have also needed to use senior transportation over the last year. I use a walker, but I can get into and out of a vehicle. I agree that some of the services are very bad. If she needs a wheelchair to get into and out of the vehicle, there isn't much choice but to use a service. Some cab companies have wheelchair vans, but they are very expensive if she needs to go great distance. I have a twice-a-week appointment at a hospital across town, and it is about $40 each way when I use the cab. I need to put up with inconvenience to save that cost.

If she is able to get into and out of vehicles, instead of a college student, I would suggest a senior. They would be more understanding of her needs and probably have a more flexible schedule. They would need to have a car or van that is large enough for the wheel chair. Try contacting a senior center. Regardless, if you hire someone, you will need to be sure they are insured. You will need to pay an hourly rate plus mileage. It will not be inexpensive.

I think she just needs to try different senior services until she finds one that works for her.

Help Available with Advanced Planning

Many urban areas have a handicap bus service that will pick up handicapped people at their home. It is usually part of the local bus/transportation system. It is usually only a few dollars each way and the bus is equipped for wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc. There is usually a driver and an attendant to help passengers. It is safer, easier, and less expensive than hiring a driver. The downside is that you usually need to call and make arrangements 24 hours in advance.

Ask Doctor About Extended Hours

Try checking with the doctor's office to see if they have extended hours. I was surprised to learn recently that our office does. Not everyone has a 9-5 lifestyle anymore. My doctor likes to work the 12-8 shift, so she can see her children off to school in the morning.

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