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I am her PCA. She cannot walk so far to buses and trains, cannot walk the steps up and down, needs to sit--it is getting more and more difficult for her to get around and keep appointments. I was hoping there would be free lessons I could take so I can take her where she needs to go.

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Baba, I have been to the city twice. It was an ok place to visit, but not for too long. I would never be able to live there. I much prefer treey places! And I know the transportation system is great, just very very crowded. Rode the train out to Long Island a number of times. Glen Head, if you know it. That would be an ok treey place as long as I didn't have to go into the city.

Curiousity. What does assisted living and memory care cost in the city? I imagine the facilities must be multiple stories. Here facilities are usually two or three stories, occasionally you will se what we consider high rises going up to about eight floors max.
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Glad, actually NYC is generally thought to be a good place to age in place. The public face of the city does not allow you to see that it's actually a series of small neighborhoods connected by a good public transport system. Where I live in Brooklyn, I have 12 subway lines within 5 blocks and numerous busses on each corner. I can walk 2 blocks to 2 different grocery stores or get delivery from Fresh Direct. I can walk to the pharmacy, to a movie theater, a hospital, small restaurants and several department stores, including Macys. I live in a handicapped accessible building. I bought this apartment when I was 49 and newly divorced and thought hard about moving someplace leafy. But if I have to give up driving, I can get anywhere I need to.
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I cannot imagine living in NYC! How do the elderly manage? The noise, congestion, confusion, rudeness... Maybe consider moving to a more serene place, or if you are not able to leave the City find a place for Mom that will be more enjoyable for her. And I imagine if mom moved, you would be happier and less stressed yourself.
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Driving in Manhattan is hard enough for someone who has been driving for years, like me. I can't imagine driving there after 6 weeks of lessons! Have you checked out the NYC Department for the Aging website? They might have some alternatives, plus it says that some senior centers have their own transportation.
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Per, one thing you should remember is that "those places" are not what they were when your grandmother was elderly. Nothing is perfect (certainly not in the City of NY). You might go take a look at some, either with or without your mom, just as research.

With regard to AAR, have you thought about getting your local city council person involved? I would bump this up and perhaps find out if there is a local group involved in trying to make improvements.

if you have a neighbor with a car, would one of them be willing to teach you? Another low cost option might be the community colleges of CUNY.
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Thanks you everyone for all your responses! I appreciate all your tips. Actually my mom went through all this with her mom and now I'm trying to help her. The AAR complaints are real. I've been home waiting for her to come home when she called or texted me and was pretty much stranded somewhere and drivers have "threatened" to leave without her for some appointment she may have just because I have taken 1 or 2 extra minutes to get her things together. There have been times when they make us wait for someone else for a long period of time. I was also in the vehicle with her when we were nearly in an accident. And I have encountered the rudeness and disregard of the drivers. I told her I wished there were driving lessons available to me so I can just rent and take her where she needs to go. It's very frustrating and scary to rely on AAR or public transportation. I have made complaints to MTA and DOT to no avail. They just replied with a "thank you for letting us know" and it goes nowhere. I feel as if it is all going to get worse. She has started talking about going to a place so that I won't be "burdened" with taking care of her, but I am okay with it. It's only we two and from the horror stories she told me when she had to place her mom in a home, I don't know if I could feel okay with this.
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Per, I'd be curious to hear how this complaint is framed by mom. Is SHE saying, I wish you could drive me to my appointments? Or is she "just" complaining about the service? Or is she flummoxed by the procedures she must follow, slightly deaf and can't make out what the driver is saying, or fraught with such anxiety due to cognitive loss in such way that makes every trip seem like a brush with death and disaster (last scenario was my mom).

Sit down with her and talk through what she needs to accomplish, i.e. grocery shopping, hair appointments, doctor, dentist. Can she afford to cab to some of these destinations? Can some of these be consolidated and done with you via taxi on one day? Or is this a signal that she is needing more care and can't live independently any longer. Let us know how this works out, we all learn from each other.
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Skim this page for the section on How to File a Complaint.

http://web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm#complain

The ADA requires that persons with disabilities be afforded transit opportunities; if the service is as bad as you say, the transit authority should be aware so that it can address the problems and ensure that it's in compliance with the act.

This is especially important since it seems that you've experienced nothing positive with the service. I would also try to reach the managers of the paratransit service and see if you can get some support there; there are just too many instances of negative experiences that apparently have happened.

You could also see if there are any local senior centers that might have their own paratransit vehicles, or have contracted with AAR. Just the involvement of a center that's closer to what people need might offer a different level of treatment.

And there's always your legislative reps. Given the impending elections, some of them might want to take a stand supporting the elderly and might be willing to go to bat with AAR for you.
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Per100, in the near future your Mom might need to consider moving into a retirement building where the building offers transportation to their residence.

And there will come a time where you will need to go to the doctor appointments along with your Mom as a second set of ears is very important to get the correct information.

I always go with my parents, and after the doctor appointment I hear my parents chatting about the doctor appointment.... then I wonder, were we in the SAME exam room??? Their recollection of the appointment is not the same as mine :P
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Thank you for the two answers. She has AAR and that is why I was hoping to help her myself. She had been treated terribly by this organization, left for hours at a time somewhere waiting, and spoken to harshly telling her they would leave her wherever, have left her stranded, speak other languages or mumble or disregard her questions and concerns, almost get into accidents-it's been a nightmare and I worry for her safety. I've made complaints about these issues but they always make it seem as if it is the disabled person's fault and there is the threat of cancelling the disabled person from AAR if they cause too many problems. I don't know what to do with this situation but it doesn't make me feel comfortable and I am always worried when she has to go by herself and use their service.
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Babalou is right; even if you did learn to drive, you'd have to buy a car and pay for the insurance for it. You'd also have to be able to handle someone with compromised mobility.

Certain buses are equipped with lifts to hoist wheelchairs up into the bus. Better to let someone with training and the necessary equipment handle someone with as much limited mobility as your mother has.
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PER, your profile say that you live in Manhattan. Forget about driving lessons. Get your mom qualified for AccessARide.
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