A Guide to Rideshare for Seniors: Part 1

rideshare for seniors

Ridesharing, either for local trips or just running errands, is one of the hottest new trends in transportation. Chances are, you’ve probably taken notice. Whether you’ve heard family talking about ridesharing or saw a car with an “Uber” or “Lyft” light in the window, you’ve seen these new companies around. And you’ve probably been wondering exactly how rideshare for seniors works.

Well, ridesharing is exactly what you’d think, sharing a ride with someone. Any person with a car can become a driver for one of these services and use their own vehicle to shuttle people from place to place.

Ridesharing services were first used in big cities, but now they’re just about everywhere. Uber, the largest ridesharing company in the U.S., had 95 million people use their app on a monthly basis in 2018.

Clearly, this new form of transportation is popular, but how can seniors get in on the action? We’ll explore that question, and more, in the first part of our guide to ridesharing for seniors.

How to use a ridesharing service

Getting started with a ridesharing service is just a few taps away on your smartphone. All you have to do is download the app of the ridesharing program you want to use. The app should be available to you no matter what kind of smartphone you have.

Open the app and follow the prompts to set up an account. Be prepared to enter your personal information as well as a default payment method via a credit card. Rest assured this information is NEVER seen by individual drivers. All they can see is your first name and phone number, in case they have trouble finding where you’re waiting to be picked up.

Once you’re signed up, you’re ready to ride! Type in the address where you’d like to go, and choose what type of car you’d like to pick you up. Many seniors find getting in and out of a van or SUV easier than a traditional sedan, and there are plenty of those available through ridesharing.

When the driver is on their way you can see their first name, the color and make of their car and track how close they are via GPS.

When they arrive, you can hop in and be on your way. But not so fast, there are a few things you need to know to rideshare safely.

How to use rideshare for seniors safely

Ridesharing is an easy way to get around town, but you do need to stay on guard. After all, you’re getting into a stranger’s car and trusting they’ll take you where you need to go. Here’s what you can do to safely enjoy ridesharing:

  1. Usually the driver will confirm your name before you get into the car, but if they don’t, be sure to ask them, “what’s my name?” Only your true rideshare driver will know your first name, because they can see it on the app.
  2. Confirm the vehicle matches the description on the app. There’s no reason the car should be any different than what’s described on the app.
  3. When possible, don’t ride alone. If you’re meeting someone, ask if they’d consider sharing the ride with you.
  4. Sit in the backseat. This way, you can quickly exit the car on either side, should the need arise.
  5. Ensure the driver follows traffic laws. This is not only for your safety but for theirs, too!
  6. Wear your seatbelt. You’d buckle up in your own car, so do the same when you’re enjoying a ridesharing service.
  7. Don’t provide the driver any additional personal information. They have everything they need, including payment, through the mobile app.

What if you don’t have a smartphone?

You actually don’t need a smartphone to use Uber or Lyft. Both Uber and Lyft allow riders to solicit rides via their websites. Go to one of their websites, follow the instructions to set up your account and request a ride. Updates about your ride, like when the driver will arrive, will be sent to your phone via text message, provided you have a cell phone of some kind. Your receipt will be emailed.

But if you don’t have a computer, there’s another option. Lyft has partnered with Carelinx to provide rides for seniors. Ask your caregiver to download the Carelinx app. If you don’t have a caregiver, a tech-savvy family member or friend will do.

Through the Carelinx app, they can order a ride for you on Lyft. Once your ride has arrived, your caregiver can track the progress of your ride and ensure you get to your destination safely. Don’t forget to use our ridesharing safety tips once your driver arrives!

Ridesharing, like many innovations of this millennium, may seem difficult to use. But if you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to taking advantage of this convenient mode of transportation.

Stay tuned next month for Part 2 where we’ll talk about the different types of ridesharing services available to seniors.


image credit: shutterstock/Rocketclips, Inc.

Pete Blasi