For most people, all it takes to get to the grocery store is a set of car keys. That’s not the case for many senior citizens, who may not feel comfortable driving anymore.
Older residents want to retain their independence, so they resist any hint of a caregiver in their homes. Helpful adult children offer to drive their parents to doctor’s appointments, but that gets old when family and job demands conflict.
Enter Mountain View resident Nanci Cooper, who has seen this scenario played out many times over the 30 years she’s worked with seniors, visiting them in their homes to cook or carry on conversations as a volunteer through a Santa Clara County program.
Her solution to the problem? First and Main, a senior shuttle service scheduled to ferry Los Altos seniors who live independently, not in assisted-living centers or other facilities.
Cooper is in the midst of securing the proper city permits, which she hopes to have by mid-April.
“Seniors often don’t want strangers in their homes, or they feel like the caregiver will just hang out,” said Cooper, who also runs Cooper ElderCare Consulting to solve dilemmas like this one and to recruit helpers. “The (adult) children are pushing the caregiver thing, but parents really don’t want it.”
First and Main will serve as an alternative to hiring full-time help, “just another tool,” Cooper said. Instead of having someone underfoot in their homes, seniors will be able to call 279-7616 for a ride anywhere within Los Altos, seven days a week. Seniors will get door-to-door pickups and drop-offs without reservations for $400 a month.
The cost will run less than it would to hire a caregiver, but more than depending on friends or relatives. Unlimited rides will be available from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, with shorter hours – 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. – on Saturdays and Sundays, major holidays included.
Cooper’s next goal is to apply for grants to buy a disabled-friendly van, something she can’t afford now. Therefore, initially the shuttle service will accommodate only those active seniors who aren’t comfortable driving themselves anymore.
The success of the business depends on providing short trips, which Cooper said is the only way she could be profitable without a government subsidy. That means that she won’t service Los Altos Hills, but she hopes to expand in the future.
Cooper has two vehicles in her fleet and plans to be a driver.