May 2017

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t m c » p u l s e | m ay 2 0 1 7 5 My caregiver is limited—she can't always go out with me. I had to get my pneumonia shot, and I would have had to ask someone to go and wait with me. Now I don't always have to do that. — ELLEN McDONALD One of the first users of RideWithFamilyTree senior transportation service Gottschalk recommended handling the conversa- tion this way: "Instead of saying, 'We are going to take away your car and replace it with this,' it should be, 'Hey, forget about driving. Here is a personal chauffeur to take you anywhere you want to go.'" 'Not just me against the world' Viola Larkins was McDonald's Uber chauffeur. She's been an Uber driver for about a year-and-a-half. For her, transporting older adults is just part of the job, but one she actually prefers. "I do it all of the time," she said. "I take people with crutches, walkers and wheelchairs. I love it—to help people get around." Across the country, people are using Uber to get to medical appointments, even using it in place of ambulances. Providing transportation options to fit everyone's needs is one of Uber's goals. In 2016, the company began offering UberACCESS in Houston, for those who need rides in wheelchair-accessible vehi- cles, said David Brightman, general manager of Uber Central Texas & Oklahoma. It's also why Uber is partnering with Family Tree. "This technology has enabled Uber to improve urban mobility and the quality of life for people wher- ever and whenever they need," Brightman said. "Our goal is to increase access to transportation for older adults in the Houston metropolitan area so they don't have to rely on a caretaker or a neighbor." McDonald likes using Uber because the process is simple; she doesn't feel like she is sitting around wait- ing because she receives text messages that tell her what's going on. McDonald also finds the Uber drivers to be friendly and courteous, which gives her a good feeling when she goes out. "My caregiver is limited—she can't always go out with me," McDonald said. "I had to get my pneumonia shot, and I would have had to ask someone to go and wait with me. Now I don't always have to do that. With Uber, I could go myself." McDonald still works as an elder care consultant, helping families with seniors make decisions about what they need. She counsels older adults about different types of medical care and even dis- cusses finances. McDonald understands, firsthand, the challenges of aging, which is why she likes using Family Tree. "It's not just me against the world," she said. "As an older person, it's nice to know they have a connection with you and that they are anticipating your needs. My family likes it, too. They can help me arrange my trips, but they have lives to live, and I like my independence. Plus, I can use Uber for other things. I might meet a friend for lunch and a movie, or I have a friend at a nursing home that I like to visit, and I can do that."

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