Can You Have A Car In Assisted Living?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Some assisted living facilities will allow seniors to keep their driving privileges while some don't. If your loved one is not ready to give up his/her car, then you should look into facilities that will accommodate his/her request. Read further to find the answer to the question, “Can you have a car in assisted living?”

Car In Assisted Living
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Moving into an assisted living facility does not mean you will give up your freedom. A question that many people ask is how they will get around when they move into a senior living environment.

You’ve been driving yourself around all of your adult life. If you move into an assisted living community, would you have to give up your car? The answer is not clear-cut because it depends.

Some facilities allow you to take your car with you and will even give you a parking space for your car. Other facilities might not let you keep your driving privileges. The only way to find out is to research your assisted living options and ask the question. 

car In assisted living transportation
Transportation services provided, such as vans, can accommodate seniors with mobility problems.

Transportation At An Assisted Living Facility

You might wonder who is responsible for providing transportation at an assisted living facility.

One benefit of moving into an assisted living facility is providing transportation services for its residents. The facility knows that its residents will have many medical appointments. So, most facilities will include transportation in the monthly fees.

If you have an appointment, you just have to schedule it with the transportation service. When it is time for you to go to your appointment, whether it is to see your doctor, dentist, physical therapist, etc., you will get a ride to the doctor’s office and a ride back to the facility.

This on-demand service is a popular benefit.

The transportation service is also available for other types of needs. The vehicles are usually shuttles or minivans. They often take residents on shopping trips, outings, or to run errands.

Shopping trips are often scheduled weekly so the residents can plan ahead whether they need to go. In fact, facilities encourage residents to connect with their communities. They often plan excursions to local events so the residents can enjoy getting involved with the larger community.

Residents who used to live nearby can continue their involvement with the community. Residents who are new to the area can enjoy establishing new connections in the community.

The type of transportation can vary depending on the facility. Some places have a small bus or a passenger van that the staff uses to drive their residents around.

The vans are typically wheelchair-accessible. So, if you have mobility problems and use a wheelchair, a walker, or other mobility devices, you can rest assured that the van is roomy enough to accommodate you.

In addition to the facility’s transportation services, residents also have access to other types of transportation. These include taxi services, paratransit, public transit, volunteer drivers, and rideshare services.

When talking with the facility, always find out what kind of transportation service the monthly rate includes. If on-demand transportation services are extra, find out how the rate is calculated.

Using Your Own Car At An Assisted Living Facility

What if you are not ready to give up your car and still want to drive yourself around after you move to the assisted living facility? Are there benefits to driving yourself?

A lot of seniors actually prefer to keep driving themselves after they move to the assisted living community. Many facilities do accommodate that. They may have apartments with parking spaces for residents who own a car.

Because seniors might experience some declines in their reaction time and visual acuity, they might require a resident to get a doctor’s approval before they are allowed to continue to drive.

Advantages Of Owning A Car

You can be in full control

Like in your younger days, you can drive to appointments or go shopping whenever you want. You do not have to schedule anything with a driver. You do not have to depend on someone to give you a ride or pick you up. You just get into your car and start driving.

If you often like to do things that are unplanned, having your own car is a must

Maybe you just found out that a good friend of yours is in town, and on a whim, you two want to meet at a nice coffee place. Or, you just remembered that your grandson’s birthday is today, and you need to run out to get him a gift because he is coming to see you today.

Having your own car will allow you to be spontaneous.

You like independence

You like the independent feeling of owning your car because you can practically go anywhere that is accessible by car. 

You are still very capable of driving safely and defensively

Your driving skills have not declined just because you got older. If you want to do a check, some programs help assess seniors’ driving skills.

Also, some states require drivers over a certain age to go to the DMV to take a competency test before getting their license renewed.

car In assisted living drawbacks
Insurance rates are often higher for senior drivers.

Drawbacks Of Owning A Car

It is expensive to keep a car

If you are still financing your car, that will be an extra expense against your monthly fixed income. 

Insurance rates can increase as you get older

From the perspective of auto insurers, senior drivers become greater risks once they reach 70 years of age due to possible declines in their driving abilities. That means insurance rates will go up. If you plan to continue driving past the age of 70, this is something to consider.

Gas costs money

Needless to say, whenever you drive, you will use gas. Gas prices have increased, which is another expense against your fixed income. Also, depending on where you drive, you may have to pay the toll for bridges, roads, etc.

Car maintenance will cost money

The older your car, the more maintenance it will require. Sometimes it might need major repairs that can squeeze your budget tight. 

You have driven all of your adult life, and it is difficult to give up that freedom. However, there might be a time when you must decide to give up.

Here are some things to help you decide whether it still makes sense for you to drive after you move to an assisted living community:

Does driving still make you happy?

If you have lost that thrill about driving, maybe it is time you stop and let someone else drive you instead. 

Does driving cause you eye strain or fatigue?

Having to concentrate on the road can be rather tiring. Do you find that you are tired after you come back from a drive? 

Be honest with yourself about your physical abilities

Sometimes it is hard to admit that you can no longer react as quickly as you could when you were a younger driver. This is the time to be honest with yourself because the life of the people who share the road with you and your own life is at stake.

If you feel that your reaction time has slowed considerably or that you sometimes get mixed up with the gauges, it is time to consider letting someone else do the driving seriously.

RELATED: Can Your Spouse Live With You In An Assisted Living Facility?

Do You Really Need A Car When Living In An Assisted Living Facility?

When you consider the transportation services that most facilities provide to their residents, and given the expense of driving and maintaining a car, there is really no practical need to own your own car.

You can get a ride to any type of appointment. You can be driven to shopping malls, churches, restaurants, and many other places. If you want to be spontaneous, you can always call a taxi to take you wherever you want to go.

Also, the best assisted living communities provide residents with many activities to keep boredom away. So, there won’t be much need to leave just for entertainment.

So, it is still a personal choice. You don’t need to drive because there are people ready to take you wherever you want to go. However, if driving is more of a recreational activity that makes you happy, then you might want to keep your car.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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