Independence is instilled in us throughout life -- and the desire to be independent does not diminish as we age. One factor that has a far-reaching effect on independence is loss of the ability to drive. From health care and services, to shopping and visiting with family and friends, one’s mobility within and around the community impacts self-esteem and quality of life. The resulting isolation from the loss of such mobility is associated with depression, anxiety and a lesser view of self.
Volunteer transportation programs are an important option for meeting the transportation needs of older adults. For many, volunteer transportation services are their only means of accessing medical care, getting groceries and prescriptions, running errands, and participating in social and leisure activities. This volunteer service is more than a ride. It provides valuable socialization that might only occur when the older adult ventures out for these scheduled appointments. Additionally, volunteer transportation services tend to be tailored to the individual needs of the older adult rider, such as help getting in and out of the house, help with walkers or wheelchairs, or assistance with packages. In many cases, the relationship that develops between rider and volunteer driver extends for years.
Our volunteer transportation services are almost always offered at no or low cost, easing financial concerns for many vulnerable older adults. There is no typical volunteer transportation program. They are as varied as the communities they serve. No matter how they are structured, the niche volunteer transportation programs fill and the access and added benefits they provide allow older adults and people with disabilities the opportunity to remain engaged and independent.
To learn about volunteer transportation available in your community, contact your local Shepherd's Center.
When I had to give up driving, my world got really small. My daughter lives nearby but works all day. I can't use public transportation and cabs are too expensive. The volunteer drivers with Shepherd's Center are a lifeline. They take me to medical appointments and shopping, but they have also taken me to an art class and out to lunch with a friend. As a result, I can stay living in my own home and I don't feel so alone. Each and every volunteer is a blessing!
-- 91-year-old passenger