A Safe Drive Home for Older Adults: Uber and Lyft By. Ashley Dechant

Uber and Lyft are sweeping the nation, making it affordable to get from point A to point B. These apps are essentially a private car service that anyone can access with an app on their phone. The way both of these works is you download Uber and Lyft onto your phone for free. Once it is downloaded you can click on the app and for each app it’ll prompt you to “Get Started or “Sign Up.” For Lyft, you will be prompted to type in your cellphone number. Once you submit it, you will be asked to type in a four-digit code that was sent to your phone through text message. Once that is done, you have created your account. In order to pay for your rides, you can add a payment card to your account or use a PayPal account. After that, you can set a pickup and type in where you want to be picked up and dropped off. Then the Lyft will be requested.

Uber is a similar set up as Lyft. Once you open up the app, you will have to do the same as Lyft and type in your cellphone number and type in a four-digit code. One difference is Uber will then ask you for your email address and create a password for your account that is a minimum of five characters. It will ask you for your first and last name, and finally to select your preferred payment method (credit or debit card, PayPal, or gift card). After all of this, you can then request an Uber to pick you up and drop you off at the place of your choice.

Although both of these apps are very similar, there are some notable differences in each. For instance, Uber requests more information from you when first starting your account, whereas Lyft simply asks for a cellphone number. The rest is to be filled out at your own convenience. As well as Lyft states if you’d like to request a ride and makes everything easier to follow from there. Uber just asks where to go which can be kind of confusing, never having a button that says request ride or anything along those lines. These are the only differences seen between Lyft and Uber. The question is, are these two apps accessible to older adults and why should they be used when they are mainly marketed to younger adults? These apps are able to let older adults find transportation to help them continue living their lives.

These products should be of interest to older adults because vision loss related to macular degeneration is experienced by a huge number of older adults. Over seven million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with this eye disease (Cimarolli, Boerner, Reinhardt, Horowitz, Wahl, Schilling & Brennan-Ing, 2017). This means that it can be harder for older adults to drive, as they get older. In a longitudinal study, older adults aged 65 or older, with a macular degeneration and having received only low vision clinical services were asked to participate in face-to-face interviews. The point of this study was to see social participation and how it correlates with quality of life (Cimarolli, 2017). The result of this study showed that only a small amount of variance in was explained in the three social participation outcomes. There are other correlates that can be categorized within older adults involvement in life situations.

Another reason these apps should be implemented is because of impaired cognition. There have been studies that show drivers with dementia are twice as likely to be involved in a collision than older adults who don’t have cognition problems (Shimada, Tsutsumimoto, Lee, Doi, Makizako, Lee & Suzuki, 2016). Depending on the older adult, some will continue to drive even with declining driving abilities and others will limit driving or stop altogether after getting diagnosed with dementia. In a study 10 885 individuals who were 65 years and older, the purpose of the study was to see the prevalence of cognitive impairments based on the Mini-Mental State Examination. This is used to assess cognitive problems and is a component of dementia diagnosis (Shimada, 2016). The results of this study were that drivers decreased with advancing age and increasing cognitive decline (Shimada, 2016). 61% of older men with moderate cognitive decline continued to drive still (Shimada, 2016).

These apps may not be known by seniors because it’s really only marketed to younger adults. Lyft and Uber are only available on cellphones, so if an older adult didn’t have one or know how to navigate the cellphone, the older adult wouldn’t know how to download the app or where to even find it. An intervention for this is to publicize it in senior centers, grocery stores, in the newspapers, libraries etc. As well as hold workshops on step-by-step directions on how to navigate the apps and even download them.

One of the reasons why older adults might not use these apps is trying to navigate the actual app itself. Both apps ask for a security code that is sent to your cellphone through text message. The code isn’t very long, but for those with impaired cognition, it can be hard to remember the code long enough to type it in. Another critique would be the process of creating an account for an Uber. There is quite a significant number of things that need to be filled out on a tiny screen by an older adult with visual impairments. A solution to this is not asking for an email address or to create a password. Lyft doesn’t require you to create an account to use the app. As well as being able to register for Uber and Lyft on a computer, where there is a larger screen could help significantly. Then when it is time to use the app in the phone, you are able to minimize the time the older adult is going to be on the cellphone. All of these would better lure a older adult to these apps.

In today’s society, technology is involved in everything we do. As generations get older, it is important to make these kinds of apps accessible to people of all ages, especially older adults. Lyft and Uber have the potential to target more than one population. Older adults would be able to find their own way around and feel a sense of independence. As well as older adults would be able to safely find a ride from one point to another. It is better to find apps like this so older adults have options in their own lives.


Cimarolli, V. R., Boerner, K., Reinhardt, J. P., Horowitz, A., Wahl, H., Schilling, O., & Brennan-Ing, M. (2017). A population study of correlates of social participation in older adults with age-related vision loss. Clinical Rehabilitation31(1), 115-125. doi:10.1177/0269215515624479

Shimada, H., Tsutsumimoto, K., Lee, S., Doi, T., Makizako, H., Lee, S., & … Suzuki, T. (2016). Driving continuity in cognitively impaired older drivers. Geriatrics & Gerontology International16(4), 508-514. doi:10.1111/ggi.12504



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