Q: I am no longer driving, and I am having trouble figuring out how to do my errands and get groceries. Do you have any suggestions?
A: It is a challenge to figure out new ways to do things when you no longer can drive yourself. Especially in this area of California, we are used to the independence of driving our own car. The public transportation system is not as familiar or accessible, but there are still options.
First, I recommend reaching out to family, friends, and community groups you are involved with. It can feel more comfortable to go shopping with people you know, and unless you let them know you have a need, they cannot offer their help. You can also reach out to your local senior center and ask for other local options that your community may offer.
There are public transportation options that may work for you. There are fixed route bus stops or if that is not good for you there are Dial A Ride programs that offer door to door transportation for people aged 65 and older or those with an ADA card. Each city has their own program, however, so you need to contact your local city to learn more. Dial A Ride can be used for grocery shopping or social events, as well as doctor appointments. They will give you a time range for pick up, so some flexibility on your part will be needed for this service.
You can also call 211 for transportation resources. They have a program called 211Ride that provides a free trip planning tool to help you plan rides on bus routes, trains and Dial-A-Ride.
The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging has a program to provide free transportation tickets to Ventura County residents over the age of 60 and people with disabilities. It is called the Elder Help Transportation Program and it can provide bus tickets and Dial A Ride tickets, as well as limited rides to medical appointments, for low income and frail older adults and/or disabled adults unable to use the bus. To learn more call 805-477-7300.
A higher cost option is using a ride hailing app like Uber or Lyft. This allows you to schedule a ride from your smart phone on demand.
The above options all allow you to go do your own errands with the help of a transportation program. There are other options to help you have your groceries brought to you.
There is a wonderful volunteer program called Shop Ahoy, where volunteers will shop at your local Vons store and deliver the groceries to you. They will call you at a designated time and day to take your grocery list over the phone. When they bring the groceries to you, they will provide you the receipt and you write them a check to reimburse for your items. You can learn more and see if they serve your city at http://shopahoy.net/ or call (805)236-1267.
There are a variety of apps that can offer delivery of needed items to your door such as Instacart or Door Dash. Even some grocery stores have their own delivery options where you can place your order online.
It can feel really frustrating to rely on other people and services for transportation. But there are options available if you reach out and ask for help. A little patience will go a long way and will be worth it when you discover a new and safe way to get your errands completed.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.