How free Lyft rides can dramatically improve life for senior citizens

On-demand car services can drastically improve the health of senior citizens, according to new preliminary data.

At the USC’s 2018 Body Computing Conference this past Friday, researchers showed how unlimited free Lyft rides can improve quality of life by a whopping 90% for seniors. The research was part of a pilot program announced last fall between Lyft and the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing, which aimed to study and connect senior citizens with transportation. In collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the AARP Foundation gave a $1 million grant to the Keck Medicine of USC to test the impact of providing free Lyft rides on the health of elderly USC patients within the greater Los Angeles area.

The goal was to see whether accessible transportation greatly affected later-in-life healthcare, socialization, and activity levels. While the final study will not be published until early next year, researchers released preliminary data about its current progress.

“It’s not just missing doctors’ appointments,” Leslie Saxon, executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing, previously told Fast Company. “What really determines survival in an aging population is socialization–it’s any trip out of the house, and how active you are. That is the No. 1 determinant of basically who lives and who dies.”

Several million senior citizens miss medical appointments each year due to a lack of accessible and affordable transportation, with no-show rates hovering at 30% for sub-specialty doctor appointments, according to a 2016 study. Transportation for America (T4 America) found that more than half of the U.S. non-driving population age 65 and over stays home on any given day because they don’t have transportation. They make fewer trips to the doctor (15%), to shop or eat out (59%), and for social, family, and religious activities (65%) than drivers in the same age group.

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