With the Labor Day weekend rapidly approaching, many of us will be traveling to enjoy our final fling with summer. Before you even think about bringing your elderly parents along for the trip, there are some important things to consider.
It is vital to remember to bring your elderly parent’s prescriptions along for the trip. Keep all medications in their original pill vials for easy identification. Make sure to pack all prescriptions in your carry-on luggage to assure they will end up at the correct destination. It is wise to write down the name of your parent’s doctor, phone number and a brief medical history in the event of an emergency. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can forget vital information during an emergency situation. It’s not a bad idea to bring along the living will as well. Don’t forget any adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.
Before heading out, take your loved one to see his or her doctor. Make sure your elderly parents have enough medication to get them through the trip. A quick check-up will offer assurance that your parent is safe to travel.
The doctor can discuss whether or not air travel is safe. Many people don’t know that airlines will not permit oxygen to be transported either as cargo or with the person who requires it.
Most airports have made special accommodations for elderly passengers by providing free wheelchairs and transportation services to get them from the ticket counter to the gate and back again. Don't misjudge the ability of your elderly relative to hobble through the airport from gate to gate. Even a small distance can wear out someone using a cane or otherwise afflicted with a physical ailment.
People with certain cardiac conditions may also want to discuss air travel with their doctor. Certain medications may also hamper air travel. If air travel is not an option, the doctor can offer safer options for arriving at your destination.
Comfort level is a major point when considering automobile or bus travel. Most tour buses have steps that your loved one will need to climb. Add to that the problem of going to the bathroom in a bouncing, bumpy bus and you may have problems if your parent is unable to keep his/her balance. Car travel has many of the same problems, but you have more control over your own vehicle. Plan your route carefully in order to provide frequent rest stops for your parent to recuperate from the long travel. Be sure to pack food and drink for longer trips, especially if your loved one is diabetic.
Traveling by train has many of the same options offered as air travel such as wheelchair access and attendants ready to assist you and your relative into your train seat. However, be aware that train rides are notoriously hard on people who have back problems. The rocking motion and the length of most train trips don’t help, so anyone with back problems may want to consider other travel options.
Traveling with your elderly parents can be a stress-free experience with a little planning and foresight. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination, ready to relax!
Are you leaving your elderly parents at home while you travel? Click HERE to learn how we can assure their saftey while you are away.
For most of us, driving symbolizes freedom and independence. Driver safety is often a very sensitive issue for seniors as they see the changes of normal aging affect their ability behind the wheel. If you or a loved one needs to limit or give up driving completely, it won’t be the end to independence. With the help from family, friends and resources, your loved one can remain mobile without driving.
Watch for Warning Signs:
Talking to a Senior Who is No Longer Safe to Drive
⦁Difficulty following instructions and directions.
⦁Drives against traffic, on the wrong side of the road.
⦁Coasts to a near stop in the midst of moving traffic.
⦁Drifts into other lanes of traffic.
⦁Stops abruptly without cause.
⦁Presses simultaneously on the brake and accelerator while driving.
⦁Does not signal when turning or changing lanes.
⦁Has accidents, near misses, or “fender benders.”
⦁Gets lost in familiar places.
⦁Fails to obey traffic laws, road signs, or signals.
⦁Makes errors in signal use, steering, braking, speed and accelerator use.
⦁Has difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects, and other vehicles.
⦁Is increasingly nervous when driving.
⦁Becomes increasing flustered in traffic or by more aggressive drivers.
⦁Drives significantly slower than the posted speed or general speed of other vehicles.
⦁Turns from improper lane or at an improper time or pace at intersections.
⦁Ignores or coasts through stop signs.
⦁Backs up after missing an exit.
⦁Falls asleep while driving or gets drowsy.
⦁Does not pay attention to other drivers or road hazards.
⦁Does not react to emergency situations.
If you need to have the conversation with a loved one about driving, approach the issue with sensitivity. A driver’s license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency. Understandably, driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to surrender willingly.
Most older drivers realize that they are gradually losing their ability to operate a car safely, but they still may be reluctant to hand over their keys. Your loved one may feel relieved to have someone else assist with the decision to stop driving.
When a Driver Refuses to Give Up the Keys
It might feel very difficult for you to force a loved one to give up driving all together, especially if the senior is used to having their independence. However, their safety and the safety of others on the road must come first. An unsafe driver can seriously injure or kill themselves or others.
Here are some tips:
⦁Tell your loved one that the doctor said they are no longer allowed to drive- you might even be able to have their doctor write a prescription to stop driving.
⦁Make an anonymous report to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
⦁Take the car keys away
⦁Disable the car
⦁Sell the car
There are many options available. These include:
⦁Family, Friends, Neighbor
⦁Public transit: buses, subways, and light rail
⦁Taxis, limousines, and chauffeur services
⦁Companion Care (such as Home Helpers)
⦁Motorized wheelchairs for non-ambulatory seniors
For assistance in finding transportation services, use local resources such as senior centers, adult day centers, your county’s Area Agency on Aging, faith-based organizations and hospitals.
To learn how our caregivers can assist with transportation, click HERE.
Therapeutic Fibbing is a technique often used when caring for patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. Its purpose is to avoid further harm or upset and it involves telling a patient a white lie in order to prevent anxiety, emotional damage or hurt. As caregivers, we need to understand that it is acceptable to alter the truth to protect our patients and loved ones because they have little or no recognition of reality anymore.
Caregivers and family members face hurdles every day when caring for someone with dementia. It is essential for caregivers to meet the patient where they are and enter into their reality. If we enter into the patient’s world, ultimately, there will be less anxiety and stress. Confrontation will only cause more outbursts and disruption. We must consider the damage that telling the truth will do, versus telling a fib.
Therapeutic fibbing is one of many helpful techniques that caregivers can utilize. Here’s how:
Situation: An Alzheimer’s patient refuses to take a shower.
Solution: Mrs. Smith, your daughter wants to take you out for dinner tonight when she gets home from work. We want to make sure that you look your best for her. We can pick out a special outfit for you to wear after you get your shower.
Situation: An Alzheimer’s patient wants to have dinner ready for her husband when he gets home from work. (Her husband passed away five year ago).
Solution: I would love to help you with dinner, mom. What do you think Dad would like to have tonight? (Hint: Don’t mention the fact that he’s been gone for five years. Act as if he is still alive. Mom doesn’t need to go through the pain of learning that her husband has died if she believes he is still alive).
Situation: You’re introducing a caregiver to your parent who has Alzheimer’s Disease. (Most patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia will not accept new caregivers easily. One way to introduce a caregiver to the home is to bring them for a different reason).
Solution: Dad, this is John. He is from our church and thought it would be nice to play a game of cards with you. He is a good friend of Pastor Smith.
Most of us were raised with the belief that lying is not a good thing. But when caring for a patient with dementia, therapeutic fibbing is an act of love and kindness.
Learn more about our Friendly Visit Program for those who may be resistant to care.