Being Prepared for Your Senior Outing
As a caregiver, you probably drive a senior on errands, doctor’s visits, or just to have a break from the household routine. A little preparation can make your senior outing easier and more enjoyable for both of you.
Prepare the Car
First of all, do you have enough gas? Check the warning lights on the dashboard.
Plan to get the car ready on time. It is best to ensure the car is ready to make the trip without accidents or unexpected incidents. Also, try to start out ahead of time.
It will help you to be relaxed and calm throughout the drive.
The car has essentials for this trip and longer stays, just in case. Don’t forget your cell phone charger, a blanket, an umbrella, and pillows or cushions for back support.
Bring along the handicapped tag so you can park in handicapped spaces.
In sunny weather, you and the patient may need sunglasses, a hat, and a water bottle.
Coffee travel cups, wrapped snacks, and a trash bag are always handy. Having a lightweight travel wheelchair in the trunk is an advantage.
Don’t always expect the stores or offices you visit to have a wheelchair or a shopper wheelchair cart ready for the senior; they may not.
Prepare the Senior
Bring a go-bag or backpack for the patient who is packed and ready. Include a change of clothes, diapers, the patient’s medication list, and the doctor’s phone numbers in the bag.
The patient’s identification cards are necessary, especially for doctor’s visits. A toilet paper roll, disposable wipes, and disposable gloves are also good.
Explain where you are going, who will be there, and your reason for your senior outing.
Try to make the trip enjoyable as possible. Schedule extra time for bathroom breaks, find parking near the door and unload and load.
Seated and Safe
Load the patient first.
Try to fit the seat to the patient’s needs. Don’t keep them waiting and standing out in the weather while you load the car.
Adjust the seat belt and the shoulder belt to their height. Prop cushions or pillows behind them or to their sides.
A patient who is small, underweight, and frail may not be safe in the passenger seat because of the air bag’s impact in an accident. It might be best for the passenger to ride in the back in that case.
When riding in the back, it would be good to position the front passenger seat close enough that the seniors can place their hands on it for positioning and support.
Don’t leave the senior in the car unmonitored. A dementia patient may try to drive the car if you leave the keys in the ignition.
If you leave the motor running while you step out, an elderly patient with dementia may drive away.
Also, he may get out of the car and put himself in danger. If you must get out of the car for a moment, turn off the car, keep the keys in your pocket, and lock the car.
Keep the passenger in sight at all times, and return to the car as quickly as possible.
Relaxed and Be Patient
Playing the radio or a playlist that a patient like for entertainment might be fun in the car. But be aware that you might not be able to hear them speaking to you.
They may not be able to hear you with background noise going on. You should turn off the music or lower the volume and allow them to speak to you occasionally.
Try to be patient at all times. Respond calmly to their driving advice or to their criticism of your driving. Be able to calmly answer questions about the weather, the destination, and the purpose of your trip, even if they ask more than once.
When you stop at your destination, review with them where you both are going and who will be there.
Make your senior outing enjoyable and memorable, and have fun.