Should Your Aging Parent Use Uber?
A major stressor for adult children is their aging parent’s safety behind the wheel. In many cases, our parents drive for far longer than it is safe to do so either because we don’t want to have the uncomfortable conversation with them or because they refuse, even after much discussion.
As I mention in my e-book“Taking the Keys Away From Elderly Parents: How to Help Your Parents Give Up Driving and Set Them Up for Success,”(*affiliate link) I share that it is extremely important to have transportation options available to your parents before they quit driving. Why? They are more likely to agree to handing over the keys if they know that they can still maintain their independent lifestyle.
Depending on where you live, transportation options may be limited. Or, there may be great public transportation options available but your aging parent isn’t physically able to use it. Maybe the bus stop is too far or perhaps they can’t maneuver the steps to climb on the bus. After friends and family, you may be left with few transportation options.
With the popularity of ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft, many people who attended my senior transportation workshops asked if those are viable options for their aging parents. If you’re wondering the same, here’s how I helped families evaluate these services.
Uber and Seniors
I’ve been on many committees and attended many meetings to discuss the challenge of transportation options for seniors. Los Angeles is a tough city if you don’t drive and we have many seniors who drive far longer than it is safe to do so. We’ve discussed all of the options ad nauseum and really, as I say in my book, the best transportation plan for seniors is a network of various options.
So how does Uber fit in the network? Well, there are many pros and cons to using a service like Uber. Each family needs to evaluate them and make the best decision for their loved one.
Pros of Using Uber
- Your aging parent has a transportation option that is safer than he/she driving.
- Uber is more affordable than taking a Taxi.
- Uber’s drivers are usually more customer service oriented than Taxi drivers.
- Uber lets you know when your driver will arrive so your parent doesn’t need to stand outside in the heat, cold or rain.
- Your parent can share their ETA with you so that you know where they are at any point of their ride.
- Uber has transportation options for travelers who are blind, hard of hearing or have service animals. Additionally, they are piloting UberAssist to provide assistance to riders who need additional assistance and they are piloting the use of handicap accessible vehicles.
Cons of Using Uber
- It is unclear what type of background checks Uber drivers are required to undergo and how frequently they are re-checked. There have been incidents in the recent past that involved violent acts conducted by Uber drivers.
- From my personal experience, many Uber drivers are rushing from fare to fare so they drive recklessly. Since they are not trained/professional drivers, you don’t always get the best driver. My husband and I had a terrible ride with a driver who was clearly trying to beat rush hour traffic by darting from lane to lane and speeding whenever she could. It wasn’t the best ride to dinner.
- The app may be too complicated for your aging parent. One of the biggest challenges of Uber for the elderly is that they can’t seem to work the app – even if they normally are fairly tech savvy. I had a client who had an iPad, iPhone and took classes at the Apple store but was never able to get the app to work. She claimed it was a bad app;-) The good news is, there are some services like GoGoGrandparent.com that will hail the ride for your parent. Of course, you or your teenage child can also handle booking rides.
- Uber may not be available where your parent lives. While Uber and Lyft are constantly growing, they may not be available everywhere and if they are, there may not be a ton of drivers in the system in your parent’s community.
- Your parent may be vulnerable. If your aging parent doesn’t have all of his/her mental faculties, Uber may not be a good option for them. Again, there is limited information on Uber driver’s background checks so you may encounter a drive who targets your parent because of their vulnerability. Additionally, since the drivers are usually driving as a side hustle, your parent may get a driver who sees an elderly person as a perfect target for financial fraud.
Using a ride hailing service such as Uber or Lyft for your aging parent is not a decision to take lightly. It truly depends on your parent’s vulnerability and then whether you want to take the safety risk.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. Your purchase allows me to provide caregiving information to my readers at no cost.