Lyft is sponsoring a program offering transportation to seniors, to increase their independence.

Home caregivers in Everett understand the importance of companion care that helps seniors stay active, and to retain at least some degree of independence in their daily lives. For that reason, a new program being offered by on-demand ride service companies Lyft and Uber could become very useful and important to all elderly persons in Everett and around the country.

The program is being conducted with the joint cooperation of the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing, and the objective is to offer free rides to seniors when needed, while also outfitting them with FitBits to monitor their habits and reactions. The result of this is expected to provide insights into the senior mindset so better health care can be given, while the ride service companies gain a better understanding of how they might serve the elderly community, and increase their presence with seniors.

An Under-served Sector of Society

From a business perspective, Lyft recognizes that the senior demographic has been a significantly under-served sector of society, and one which they would like to increase their appeal with. Health care providers who are involved with the program understand that there is a huge need for providing transportation to seniors, for several important reasons. Estimates of the number of missed doctor appointments by seniors range as high as 30%, and in the vast majority of those cases, it's because the senior patient lacks transportation. 

Then too, lack of available transportation forces seniors to stay at home much more than most of them would prefer, and this leads to a critical lack of socialization. When seniors don't have the means to get out and about to socialize with others of their age, it's only natural that they tend to withdraw from society substantially, and make their own households the centerpiece of their social lives. This in turn, often progresses into isolation, depression, and an increasing decline in physical and mental health.

How the Program Will Work

The initial geographic area where the program will be carried out is in the Los Angeles area, but soon afterward, it is expected to broaden and take in other cities as well, with Chicago and Atlanta scheduled for the second phase of experimentation. Seniors will be provided with FitBits on a daily basis and will be given rides for both medical appointments and any other destination they require transportation for on a given day. Since the test groups are comprised of seniors who have missed at least two doctor appointments in the past year, the program should be a liberating experience for them.

Many of the seniors in the initial phase of the program were basically confined to their residences and had to rely on friends or relatives for transportation when it could be arranged. This program will offer a whole new level of independence for them, where they won't have to rely on anyone else for rides needed around town. The Lyft company has partnered with healthcare groups which can monitor the data provided by the FitBits, with a view toward developing better healthcare in the future and allowing seniors to become more independent.

A Win-Win-Win Situation 

This is one of those unusual situations where everyone involved achieve their objectives, and all of them come out a winner. Lyft has partnered with multiple organizations concerned with senior healthcare, including AARP. Those healthcare organizations will learn about how they can better serve seniors, once the organizations obtain solid statistical data on habits and routines. Lyft and Uber, of course, will benefit by having an entirely new segment of the market, many of whom will make use of riding services, and the companies may even be able to develop new products and services which cater exclusively to the senior demographic.

For the seniors themselves, it should also be an extremely important development, in that it would allow many of them to exercise a far greater level of independence than they've previously had. It should work to enrich their lives and let them enjoy a higher quality of life, by socializing more with peers, being more active in the community, going to events and places they would like to see, and of course keeping those important doctor appointments.

In the bigger picture, it should also contribute to better physical and mental health for all the seniors who are able to take advantage of the Lyft and Uber programs, because they won't be nearly as isolated or confined as they once were. That sense of independence and self-reliance should be a powerful factor in making elderly persons feel good about themselves, and about aging in general. With that kind of positive mindset, a great many of the most common problems which trouble the elderly population may be lessened in severity, or they may disappear entirely.