By Erin Kirkland
For Senior Voice 

Ride-sharing services aid seniors

Can you Uber a trip to the doctor? Yes


February 1, 2018

There’s little doubt that one of the toughest things about growing older is a loss of independence. The relinquishment of responsibility for one’s own actions can be the source of disagreement and angst among families, especially when driving comes up.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 40 million licensed drivers in the United States are over age 65, and while seniors in many respects are very safe drivers, wearing seat belts, following traffic rules and the like, there is no denying that aging does affect ability.

Be it through illness, injury or cognitive disability, giving up driving is often embarrassing, frustrating, and sometimes expensive when people need to find other ways to move about their daily lives. Beyond relying upon friends or family for rides, seniors usually find taxis, social service agencies, or public transportation to reach appointments or run errands. Here in Alaska, such support is not always reliable, or available. Enter the ride-share concept.

Best known through companies like Uber or Lyft, the idea of ride-sharing has taken Lower 48 states by storm, particularly in high-population areas. Drivers use their own vehicles and operate on their own time, receiving payment via a sophisticated application (“app”)-based network.

Customers need only a smartphone with the app and a credit card to summon a car. No waving down a cab, no fumbling around for cash or a credit card, just a reassuring update saying your driver is “arriving now.” An advantage of Uber or Lyft (both of which are available in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau) is the perk of short-notice pickup, making the service worthwhile for those who need to run errands, visit a doctor, or visit friends. It even works long-distance. (

Lisa Kruse of Anchorage utilizes Uber consistently for her job as marketing manager for a local tourism company. Kruse travels quite a bit, and likes the swiftness and affordability of the ride-share economy. When her mother, who lives in Spokane, Washington, broke her hip, Kruse was concerned that a long recovery time meant no driving, with no family nearby.

“She was a little unsure about using a taxi or dealing with the payment, so we choose Uber so I could pay for her transit and relieve her worries,” Kruse said. “So we both added the Uber app to our phones.”

Once both Kruse and her mother had the app, she said, it worked like a charm.

“Prior to her appointment, she would alert me of the destination address and I would order her Uber ride using my Uber account with location services turned off and manually enter her pick- up and drop-off addresses.”

For Kruse, it was fun to watch her mother navigate independently.

“I didn’t anticipate that,” she said. “We would text during the trip so I could see she was OK.”

Uber and Lyft, neither of which responded to requests for comment, state on their websites that poorly-rated drivers are not retained long (another advantage; passengers give drivers a rating based upon their service). From my experience in Anchorage, drivers have been knowledgeable, courteous, and swift to arrive.

And when I arrive at my destination, I simply hop out with a quick “Thanks.” Until next time.

Tips for requesting a ride for another individual with your account: Make sure you have downloaded the Uber or Lyft app on your smartphone (both Apple or Android). A credit card number will be kept on file for payment purposes.

Request rides for someone else


Tap “where to” and enter friend’s pickup location

select “someone else” Note: if you do not see this option, go to the section “alternatively”

enter friends contact details. Either select their contact info from contact picker, or type in their mobile number.

Select friend, make sure they have an arrow on their icon

Enter friend’s destination

Tap “confirm rider” and “request”

Once the trip is accepted, your friend will get text message from Uber w/ details like driver ETA, driver name, license plate, vehicle make and model.

It is not possible to request more than one ride at a time. If you need to schedule another ride (i.e. a trip home from store or appointment) wait until that trip ends before you schedule a new one, at least 10 minutes.

Utilize Uber’s Help Page on their app or website,


Open Lyft.

Type your friend’s pickup location in the address bar.

Tap Set pickup.

Tap Add destination.

Type your friend’s destination in the address bar.

Tap Request Lyft.

Contact the driver and inform them of your friend.

Lyft fees:

Rates for Uber and Lyft rides are determined by a base fare, and then factoring in time and distance. With Uber, riders can choose to tip drivers in cash. With Lyft, riders can tip drivers through the app.

All-inclusive payment is charged to a credit card on file, and a receipt is sent by email.

Erin Kirkland is an Anchorage-based freelance writer.


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