Getting out and about is undoubtedly one of the most beneficial and enjoyable activities that a senior can undertake. As people get older, many find themselves going outside their homes less and less. Usually it’s not deliberate – they may simply lack any incentive to do so as often, or else have a condition that prevents them from being able to venture too far from the door. Others may lack effective means of transportation, especially if they can no longer drive.
Public transport, therefore, is invaluable to countless senior citizens across the country. Whether it be by bus, train, or taxi, utilising public transport allows seniors to travel to areas that may otherwise seem unreachable.
However, while many public transport services will try to make themselves as accessible as possible, it may still pose a challenge in certain other regards.
Getting the most out of public transport
Before your journey, make sure to do some planning to ensure it’s as accessible to seniors as possible. This requires some creative thinking, at times, such as combining several transport links into one journey.
Principally, the main concern is distance. Not just the transport itself, but also getting to and from drop off and pick up points. For example, if you’re catching the bus into town, you’ll need to know where the bus stops can all be found and how close they are to your points of departure and arrival. You don’t want seniors taking longer than necessary walks from their stop to their destination.
Take into consideration the surrounding area. If someone lives in an isolated farmhouse, it’s possible they may have to walk a long way before they can find the closest stop.
Most inner city and developed urban areas will enjoy plentiful public transport links, many of which will be located close to sites of interest. Smaller towns and less dense areas will, conversely, see more limited options.
On a similar note, remember that public transport operates on specific schedules that may vary depending on the time of day, week, or year. Bank holiday outings will almost certainly see public transport reduced from one every quarter hour to one an hour, while certain routes may stop running entirely at a certain time of day. Make sure you know when the last ride home is, and always try to catch the one before instead.
Safety while travelling
Venturing outside one’s house can be scary after a certain age. This feeling of vulnerability may contribute to a reluctance to leave the home, but it’s something that can easily be overcome. No journey needs to be dangerous so long as some common sense and good judgement is applied.
First and foremost, always keep aware of your surroundings. Be mindful of any steps, sudden drops on the curbs, gaps between the platform and the vehicle, and anyone immediately around you. Doing so will prevent most stumbles and falls, as well as any accidental jostling with other passengers.
Avoid carrying too much baggage too. Seatbelts will not always be available, so having a hand free will allow you to brace yourself against a barrier when the vehicle slows down.
Always keep an eye on other passengers as well. If someone sits close by when other seats are available, and you feel uncomfortable, feel free to get up and find another seat. If possible, sit close to the driver or another official. Avoid napping on public transport if travelling alone, especially if you have a bag or purse with you.
If taking a taxi, never get into an unlicensed cab.
Using public transport with seniors
The most important thing to do here is not to rush. Allow the senior passengers to take their time, as causing them to hurry may cause accidents or mistakes. Give plenty of room for them to walk, only staying close if they need some support through awkward gangways.
Make sure that they have their ticket or cash out before they board. Doing so will save some time, as well as prevent them from fumbling with their wallets or purses.
There will always be designated seating on most public transport, usually close to the doors. These are usually earmarked for senior, disabled, or pregnant passengers, but remember that nothing is reserved. You can ask other passengers to give their seat up for a senior passenger, but the only compulsion is peer pressure. They cannot be forced if they don’t want to move.
Therefore, be prepared to stand on occasion. If a seat becomes available, take it quickly.
Reserving a train seat in advance is recommended for the same, but again be aware that there’s usually not much train staff can do if someone refuses to move from it. They will instead try to find alternative seating for you.
Free or discounted travel
Many companies and local bodies will offer free or discounted travel to senior citizens.
One scheme for example is the Senior Railcard, available to anyone who’s 60 or over. Using it will save you up to 1/3 on train fare. It can be purchased for one year for just £30, or for three years for £70, and will quickly pay for itself if you plan on using the train frequently.
Most bus companies will offer discounted fares to senior citizens, usually through a yearly bus pass or through special travel cards.
At SuperCarers, we can help you find an experienced home carer in your area to help you to live independently at home and also to support you when you need to go out for some shopping or to a doctor’s appointment. Call us on 020 8629 1030 to find out more.
You may also be interested in our article about driving when you get older.