Lyft and Uber both rode to success in the last few years with viral popularity among young adults, but the ride-sharing services are starting to make inroads with elderly customers. Both are building partnerships with senior-care facilities and hospital centers to coordinate transportation services for their aging residents and patients.
The demand is there, according to senior-care specialists, who pointed out that most adults can no longer drive on their own once they reach a certain age and their eyesight and reflexes have declined. They must surrender their car keys and in so doing also give up the mobility that they need to get to doctors’ appointments or stay socially connected.
“On-demand transportation will really not just serve 18- to 25-year-olds who are out late at night,” said Allison Wylie, an Uber employee who works to strengthen connections with the senior community. “It’s something that can improve the lives of people who lose their keys.”
Both companies have some technical challenges yet to work out. Not all drivers’ cars can fit walkers and wheelchairs, for instance. Uber launched an UberAssist option in 2015 for people who need additional help, with specially trained drivers to help passengers in and out of vehicles, but it operates on a limited scale.
Lyft is creating new apps to be more user-friendly for seniors with little smartphone experience. The Jitterbug phone lets the user contact an operator who will reserve a ride on the user’s behalf. It also built the Concierge platform, with which a family member or friend can request a ride for the user.