Pat King is a vibrant, 92 year old woman who loves to paint, sew and arrange flowers. When she speaks, her giggle seems to bubble up in between her Australian-accented phrases. But as she’s grown older, she decided it wasn’t safe to drive. She told us, “I can’t drive myself anymore. I’m a road hazard. Without a car I felt bereft – almost like I lost a leg.”
Pat’s story is only one of millions of seniors whose lives are made more difficult when mobility issues get in the way. Most of us take mobility for granted and even complain when the pace isn’t fast enough because we’re rushing to work, to church, to an appointment, to a kid’s wrestling match or to grab groceries on our way home. But for many seniors who no longer drive, this lack of mobility can have seriously negative consequences to their health and well-being.
According to the American Public Transportation Association, older non-drivers take 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor and 65 percent fewer trips for social, family and religious activities compared to those who still drive. Sixty-five percent! Being forced to stop more than half of what they used to do. That’s a big deal. And it’s a challenge caregivers are acutely aware of as they struggle to help their aging loved ones balance safety and autonomy. One adult daughter of a Brookdale resident told us, “That’ll be the next battle – taking away Mom’s driver’s license.”
Living in a Brookdale community is a great way to address some of these mobility challenges. We host and provide a wide range of social, religious, and even healthcare services within our communities. We operate a fleet of buses and cars to help residents get where they want to go and do what they want to do. But it’s not enough. Transportation services in senior living communities require scheduling in advance, have limited availability and are often confined to a geographic radius as they try to balance the preferences and needs of many residents all at once.
That’s why Brookdale partnered with the on-demand ridesharing service Lyft. They help us bridge this gap. Lyft’s Concierge platform allows Brookdale associates to schedule rides on behalf of residents, without the resident using a smartphone or entering credit card information. The cost for the ride flows through to their monthly Brookdale bill.
Pat told us, “When you are a senior, the sense of being safe is very important because you feel like you have no strength. When I need a ride, Lyft comes quickly and I know when the vehicle will arrive.”
Early tests in an Independent Living setting were more successful than we thought – more than 50 percent of the residents tried the service and more than 30 percent repeatedly used the service. As part of our tech education programming, we also introduced residents to the Lyft app for those who wanted to use it on their own devices. Lyft’s dedicated healthcare team and people-first brand aligns perfectly with Brookdale’s brand and our mission to enrich lives.
With Lyft, Pat can now walk the mile to the Redwood City Flower Shop like she always has. But if she gets tired, she can call her community concierge and ask them to send her a Lyft for the return trip. In the words of one Brookdale resident I spoke to: “Living to us is not the important thing. It’s the only thing. Because we are coming here to live. We’re not coming here to die. We’re coming here to live.” At Brookdale, we want to do all we can to help our residents live enriched lives outside of Brookdale as well as inside. Lyft is helping us do that.