On-Demand Services in the Tech-Savvy Bay Area Facilitate Aging in Place

aging in place technology As we get older, it’s so easy for some of those simple, everyday activities, like finding transportation and picking up groceries, to become frustrating and tedious tasks. Luckily, if you live in the Bay Area, there are some wonderful resources that can help older adults navigate the tricky transition away from mobile independence. If you are a caretaker for an older adult in the area, helping them get acquainted with local on-demand services and apps can let them maintain a more empowered and independent lifestyle.


Just getting from place to place is something most of us take for granted, but if your loved ones are getting older and don’t drive anymore, they might not be able to walk to the BART or navigate on foot. Taking a taxi everywhere would be outlandishly expensive, so what’s a person to do?

Fortunately, on-demand ride services like Lyft have recognized this often daily challenge for seniors and stepped up to the plate with their Lyft for Good program. If your loved one has recently given up their license, the adjustment to life without a car can take a little getting used to, but, fortunately, older adults in the Bay Area now have the opportunity to find a similar degree of freedom and independence with ride services like Lyft.

Lyft for Good is a multi-faceted program that provides meals on wheels and delivers disaster kits, but they also provide free rides for older adults who just need a “lyft.” It began as an independent initiative, with individual drivers going out of their way to help out older adults in need. Now they’ve officially partnered with Little Brothers to provide transportation to doctor’s appointments, pick up prescriptions, or even step out for an ice-cream cone after the check-up.

Try some of these apps and services for transportation:

  • Lyft
  • SilverRide – a mobility service for older adults accessible by email or phone.
  • Uber – a ridesharing service accessible through an app downloadable from the app store.
  • Flywheel – hail a taxi from your iPhone or tablet and pay through the app.

Home Maintenance & Chores

Sometimes there are tasks or purchases that older adults need help with that fall outside of the usual taxi or delivery services. For example, your loved one might need to buy a few AA batteries for the smoke detector, pick up lunch, and mail a package. They might think, “Okay, I can buy the batteries online and get them next week, order lunch over the phone and get it in an hour, and ask my daughter to mail this package for me when she comes by next Sunday”—suddenly a 15 minute errand is a week-long ordeal. On-demand services for tasks like house cleaning, lunch delivery, and shopping help older adults with the one-off services that aren’t complicated, but they just need a car or a little help with.

Even for the bigger lifestyle maintenance challenges, you can likely find a startup out here whose services are tailored to suit your needs. For example, a lot of older adults need to downsize and clean out some of their old possessions that are taking up space, but dragging boxes around and packing up furniture isn’t really an option. Why not try decluttering with Clutter? Clutter, an on-demand storage company based in Los Angeles, recently announced its plans to expand into the Bay Area. Their team packs up anything from a box of books to a sectional sofa, and zips it away to their storage facility for you.

Try some of these services in the Bay Area to get those chores done in a jiffy:

  • Postmates – provides a wide range of delivery services, from lunch to office supplies.
  • TaskRabbit – quickly hire a helper for an individual task such as house cleaning or shopping through their website.
  • Washio – offers speedy laundry and dry cleaning delivery, accessible through their website.
  • Handy – on-demand home cleaners and handymen.
  • Sprig – sustainable, organic food delivered to your door.
  • Plated and HelloFresh– delivery service that provides ingredients to cook healthy, homemade meals with new recipes each week.

Of course, don’t be limited by our suggestions! Once you start searching the app store, you might find any number of on-demand services.

Setting Up Your Loved One’s Device

One thoughtful way you can help your loved one get connected to the services they need is by simply setting up their phone to where the apps they need are easy to find and clearly organized. Once it’s all there on the screen, it feels natural to actually use the services.

  1. Either download the apps you think would most serve their needs, or set them up with the pointers and skills they need to get the apps they want through their app store.
  2. Adjust the device settings if necessary so that the type is large enough to read.
  3. Set up repeating services when possible—some grocery delivery services actually offer recurring meal plans, so you don’t have to remember to order every week.
  4. If you’ve selected several helpful apps for your loved one, organize them into folders. We recommend organizing according to a few basic categories.
    • Home
    • Travel
    • Shopping
    • Medical

That way they won’t have to sift through a slew of icons for the appropriate app.

The initiative that the Bay Area has taken, from Lyft drivers to app developers, shows off the kindness and altruism that’s alive and well here in San Francisco. Whether your loved one is looking for a little help with the laundry, wants to make a trip to the farmer’s market on the weekend, or needs a ride to the library a few afternoons each week, these resources can get them where they need to go.

At IOA, we’re proud to help caregivers and older adults get access to the resources they need, so if you have any questions feel free to contact us, and we can point you in the right direction.


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Institute on Aging

Committed to offering thoughtful discussions and resources to older adults, their families, and their caregivers.

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