How to Stay Socially Active When You Stop How to Stay Socially Active When You Stop DrivingDriving

A new survey of 4,300+ Medicare beneficiaries found that when seniors stop driving, their social lives often slow down. Researchers say that seniors who drive are more likely to visit friends and families, go to the movies, and attend worship services. How can you socialize when it’s no longer safe for you to drive? Here are some ideas.

Explore new transportation options

In many cities, there are now more options—public and private—than in decades past.

Public transportation, including paratransit services

Check with your local transportation authority to learn about reduced fares for senior passengers, bus and train routes, and paratransit services for passengers with mobility impairments. Most transit organizations have smartphone apps that let you see when the next bus will arrive at your stop, plan your round trip, and reload your fare card online.

Taxicabs

A cab is a convenient but not cheap alternative to the bus if you need to go somewhere that’s not on the bus line or if the weather is too harsh for you to wait at the bus stop. Taxis may be more expensive than peer-to-peer ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, but that’s not always so. Compare rates for each service in your area to find the best deals.

Rideshares

Before you book with Uber, Lyft, or a similar service, make sure you understand the estimated fare for each trip. These platforms typically raise rates for peak times, such as rush hour. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when to expect you, and don’t get into the car until you confirm that your driver is really working for Uber or Lyft. There are plenty of honest drivers on these platforms, but there have also been cases of criminals posing as rideshare drivers in order to rob passengers.

Volunteer transportation programs

Ask your religious congregation and local senior center if they offer rides to worship services and day programs. You can also contact your local area agency on aging to see if there are other volunteer driver programs you can use.

Socialize close to home

Explore the social options in your neighborhood. You may find that some of your neighbors are fellow retirees who have time to chat and visit during the day, or families whose young children provide some entertainment as they play outside in the evenings. If there’s a neighborhood association, meetings and special events like holiday parades can be a great way to meet more people nearby.

Invite friends and family members to come to you when you can’t go to them. You don’t need a reason, but movie nights, board game nights, and potluck dinner parties are fun and low-key events that don’t require you to do anything elaborate to prepare.

Remember, too, that technology makes it possible to socialize anywhere. You can use Facebook, Skype, or texting to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the day from wherever you are.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

2 Comments

  1. Roz August 25, 2016 Reply

    Senior Community Centers often offer a variety of activities, including exercise, art, lectures, communal lunch, and some have transportation for a reasonable fee. Organizations such as AAUW and Meetup offer great opportunities to meet like-minded people. Often, there will be members in your area who would be glad to share the ride with you. Communicate with people who operate these programs by email or telephone and let them know you are interested but would need transportation.

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