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Unlicensed seniors needing rides increases

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By age 75, about 20 per cent of Canadians require assistance to get to appointments or other events outside their home — this number includes both licensed and unlicensed drivers. By age 85, that number more than doubles for licensed drivers, while the percentage of unlicensed seniors needing rides increases to 40 per cent. Those numbers, gathered by Statistics Canada as part of the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey—Healthy Aging, point to the need for older Canadians to have access to transportation to get them where they need to go. Public transit can meet some requirements, but schedules and routing don’t always align with needs.

In response, ride services from Better At Home in New Westminster, B.C., to Toronto Ride, to the Canadian Red Cross Society’s Community Health program in St. John’s, N.L., help seniors get around. Some organizations, like B.C.’s Seniors Transportation Access and Resources even offer province-wide services.

Of course, whether they are funded by municipalities, agencies or totally on a fee-for-service basis, these seniors transportation organizations require volunteer drivers. One, the Ottawa West Community Support’s program (www.owcs.ca) is currently seeking licensed volunteers with their own cars to provide rides in the city.

Ride services generally reimburse mileage charges for volunteers. Should you be interested in volunteering, we invite you to research what support might be needed in your area.