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Transportation Services in Assisted Living

Driving Concerns

Almost all assisted living facilities offer transportation that's included in the monthly fees. Assisted living facilities deploy vans or minivans to take residents on shopping trips, or to medical appointments and bring the resident home from the hospital.

The transportation made available by the facility helps older adults connect to other services they need and want like running errands, therapy appointments, hairdresser, social outings and other local activities. Whether they drive their own cars, use a public bus or use the van at the facility, residents depend on accessibility to get them everywhere they need to go. It's their connection to the larger community.

How Many Residents Still Drive?

In the 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, just 4% of residents were still driving.

Does the resident still drive?
Responses of don't know (< 1%) and are not shown.
Source: 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities Survey (Resident Responses)

Since many residents do not drive, available transportation for appointments, outings, shopping, etc. is important.

Questions to Ask When Considering a Facility and Its Transportation Services

Take a close look at the transportation program offered by the assisted living community before deciding on one. Here are a few things to ask the administrator or the activities director about getting around:

  • Can residents arrange for transportation on a fairly short notice?
  • Is transportation easily arranged to and from medical or dental appointments?
  • What types of outings does the activity director plan?
  • Is transportation readily available to shopping malls and restaurants?
  • Are nature outings planned?
  • Does the community provide safe and well-maintained transportation vehicles?
  • How are special appointments scheduled? Is there a cost?
  • Is the transportation wheelchair accessible?
  • What qualifications does the driver have? How are these verified?
  • Is the facility required to provide or arrange transportation for medical and social purposes?

What Type of Transportation is Provided?

The 2010 CDC Survey asked residential care facilities where they might transport residents and whom did the driving, let's take a look at some of these answers:

Transportation to Medical and Dental Appointments

Does this facility provide transportation to medical or dental appointments?
Responses of not ascertained (< 1%) and are not shown.
Source: 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities Survey (Facility Responses)

81% of surveyed facilities provided transportation to medical and dental appointments.

Transportation to Stores and Other Shopping

Does this facility provide transportation to stores and elsewhere?
Responses of not ascertained (< 1%) and are not shown.
Source: 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities Survey (Facility Responses)

75% of surveyed facilities provided transportation to stores and elsewhere.

Transportation to Work

Does this facility provide transportation to a sheltered workshop, work training program or supported employment?
Responses of don't know (< 1%), and not ascertained (< 1%) and are not shown.
Source: 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities Survey (Facility Responses)

80% of facilities offered transportation to work for their residents.

Transportation to Education Programs

Does this facility provide transportation to an education program?
Responses of don't know (< 1%), and not ascertained (< 1%) and are not shown.
Source: 2010 CDC National Survey of Residential Care Facilities Survey (Facility Responses)

73% of facilities offered transportation to educational programs for the residents.

Who Drives the Residents?

In all of the above instances, transportation is given by employees of the facilities, as opposed to being outsourced to a transportation company or provided by someone else.

Additional Transportation Services Outside of a Facility

Transportation for residents may be available
What Transportation Options are There?

Older adults who have difficulty getting around may find assistance from programs supported by the Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act Supportive Services and Senior Centers Program funds a broad array of services including transportation assistance. To learn more about this program, visit the Supportive Services and Senior Centers Program.

Local city governments and federal programs provide alternative transportation options. The following is a list of various options and things to consider helping you make confident decisions about which option is best. People often look to friends or relatives to assist with transportation but sometimes it's not the most convenient.

Volunteer Driver Programs

Local faith-based and nonprofit organizations have a network of volunteers who offer transportation for shopping, doctors' appointments, recreation, and other activities. One-way, round-trip, and multi-stop rides are usually available but need reservations. These programs are free, on a donation basis, through membership dues, or for a minimal cost.

Public transit, aging organizations, and private agencies

Provide door-to-door or curb-to-curb transportation using mini-buses or small vans (vehicles for less than 25 passengers). These transportation services require users to make advanced reservations but with a limited degree of flexibility in scheduling. Curb-to-curb service provides for passenger pickup and delivery at the curb or roadside; door-to-door service offers a higher level of assistance by picking up passengers at the door of their homes and delivering them to the doors of their destinations. They're offered at reduced fares for older adults and persons with disabilities.

Agencies have drivers or escorts who offer personal, hands-on assistance by helping passengers through the doors of their residences and destinations. This includes several levels of assistance from opening doors and providing verbal guidance, to physical support. Persons with severe physical or mental disabilities typically use the service. Contact your local aging organizations to find out if this service is available in your area.

Public transit organizations and local aging organizations provide free, hands-on instruction to help older adults and persons with disabilities learn to travel safely and independently within public transit systems. They help with choosing best routes to take to reach destinations, hours of service, the cost of the trip (including available discounts), and how to pay for services (fare cards or tokens). Demonstrations on how to ride public buses and trains are given.

Taxis give residents immediate service for rides and transportation. Call the taxi service dispatch to request transportation--they're scheduled in advance or on the spot. Some taxis are wheelchair accessible and meet ADA standards. Fare charges are on a per-mile or per-minute basis on top of a base charge for each trip, and are payable through a transportation voucher program.

Area Agencies on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, and other social service organizations

Give fare assistance (transportation vouchers) that enable qualified persons (usually economically disadvantaged older adults or persons with disabilities) to obtain vouchers for transportation services at a reduced rate. The vouchers pay for services on public transportation, volunteer programs, or taxis and other private companies. Applications required for these programs.

The Elder care Locator provides publications on transportation options.

The National Transit Hotline can provide the names of local transit providers who receive federal money to give transportation services to the elderly and people with disabilities. Call Toll Free 1-800-527-8279. The nation's go-to resource for senior transportation information, research, and development by the Easter Seals, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, and with guidance from the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA). Phone: 1.866.528.NCST (6278) or visit

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.