Driving the Elderly

7 Do's and Don'ts When Driving an Older Adult
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Sure, you've been driving with your loved one for what seems like forever. But his or her changing needs may mean that a few adjustments are in order that will make outings, short or long, more enjoyable for all.

Some do's and don'ts:

1. Do provide a pillow or soft booster for your loved one.

Many older adults experience a collapsing of the spinal cord that can make it uncomfortable to sit for long periods. Better yet, keep a couple of cushions of different sizes on hand, one to sit on and another to support the back.

2. Don't assume the passenger-side air bag is safest.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

If your loved one has become very small and frail, that air bag may be a hazard. Individuals with medical conditions can qualify to have the air bag deactivated. Only an authorized dealer or repair shop can install the on/off switch, with an approved form from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

3. Do check that the seat belt doesn't chafe or rub.

A booster cushion to raise the body or a soft cloth around the part that rubs can help.

4. Don't leave a frail older loved one in a closed car while you run in to do an errand.

Temperatures in a car can change precipitously (hot or cold), and he or she is apt to be sensitive to such fluctuations. If you leave the car running, your loved one just may try to drive it away. Someone with dementia or even mild confusion might wander off. You can't know when a line will be long or a glitch will turn a 30-second errand into a 5-, 10-, or 15-minute one.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

5. Do pack an emergency bag.

Because you never know when a mini crisis will strike, it can't hurt to make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. Surreptitiously pack a special in-case-of-emergency bag for your loved one and stash it in the trunk of your car, out of sight. In it, include a change of clothing, including underwear, spare absorbent pads, or absorbent underwear if used; a sweater and a lap robe, in case of weather changes; an extra rain bonnet or ball cap, depending what your loved one favors; snacks such as granola bars and water bottles; extra medication such as glucose tabs. You never know when a doctor appointment will run long, the weather will change, the coffee will spill, or an episode of incontinence or just a pesky leaky bladder will make the bag a godsend.

6. Don't forget bathroom breaks.

While you may be able to go three or four hours without a bathroom break or a beverage, remember that your loved one may find that difficult. Take regular breaks.

7. Do make it fun.

Get some CDs of oldies or classical music, especially if the person tends to be grumpy. Take a lunch break at a spot you know has special appeal to your loved one.


about 3 years ago, said...

Everything:)


about 3 years ago, said...

The suggestion to ask about bathroom breaks is a good one. My mom would never say anything, but I could tell when we got there and she practically pushed me out of the way that she had wanted to go for awhile. :-). I would add one more, make sure they have all their "stuff" before you leave. That way you don't have any of those panicky moments in the car, while they are worrying that they forgot their meds, or the key to the cabin you are going to.


about 3 years ago, said...

Leaving a loved in a closed car reminded me tha temperature change could affect my husband. thank you! Here's another issue for which I have found no workable tip anywhere. If your loved one no longer drives but at one time was the designated driver be prepared for emotional outbursts concerning directions, speed, temperature control, music volume, parking, windshield wipers, headlights, etc. My husband who is in mid-phase Alzheimer's insists on 'going somewhere' every afternoon - usually a two hour round trip. My blood pressure climbs before the trip begins. Please, do not suggest I hire a driver. I interviewed one and set a schedule: my husband refused to go so I put that idea on the back burner for now. I can only wait until he loses interest in riding around and focuses on something else. Two months ago we were visiting one of his old girlfriends for a few weeks so there's hope he will not want to 'go somewhere' every afternoon - rain or shine.


over 3 years ago, said...

Again, there is no concern for the problems of men.


over 3 years ago, said...

I drive my mom around a fifty mile radius of our city once a week providing the weather is good.She has mild to moderate dementia. However, she gets irritated if we put a pad on the seat. I haven't been doing it just to spare her feelings and now have a car that smells atrocious. But for my mom, I can get some enzyme substance just to keep the peace. As for the back and seat support, I will try it this week and see how she reacts. We ride for up to four hours after we eat breakfast at her favorite place. If she sees we've been driving that long then she wants lunch or we stop to get her something to drink. She is not as mobile as she used to be due to blood clots in her legs. However, the Hospice nurse says let her do whatever she ask to do at this point in her 88 year old life. So I just do.


about 4 years ago, said...

One thing I learned the hard way. Make sure your loved one is in the car before all their stuff. I had turned around for maybe 30 seconds to put her little rolling cart into the back seat. I heard a noise, turned around and there she was on her back on the sidewalk. Thank God she is tough and all was OK. But from now on she goes in the car first. Stuff second.


about 4 years ago, said...

Thank you for your advice. TP


about 4 years ago, said...

Great reminders...


about 4 years ago, said...

One other thing I keep in yhe "go bag" on longer trips is a copy of most recent bloodwork, EKG, and any other electronic media I think could be useful (ie images from recent CAT scan etc). I keep these record in a plastic box type folder and keep it updated as necessary so I can grab it and run if emergency or for trips. Since facility may not have immediate access to history it may be useful - especially in a strange city.


about 4 years ago, said...

Good ideas, esp. having the emergency bag with you. Thanks!


about 4 years ago, said...

I also keep a spare cell phone charger in my "go bag". If you end up at the hospital you can plug your phone into the wall, since you may be there for hours and/or end up using your phone alot


about 4 years ago, said...

Also, it is good to have the doctors numbers and list of medications in the car. Also some snacks. I took my mom to Safeway and when I got the cart, she fell, even though she was only 3 feet away from me. We spent ten hours in the emergency room, and having the snacks came in handy.


about 4 years ago, said...

As a still driving older person, I pack a similar bag for myself - just in case - and have had to adjust the essentials when driving another elder person to doctors' appointments. I also carry a folding walker to enable my passenger to accompany me to a safe place when waiting for me to do chores. Local senior centers make a perfect "safe place."


about 4 years ago, said...

Yes, indeed, I learned the hard way to have a spare pad and underpants for my mom. And again I learned the hard way to have a blanket for her if we stop and get out, and the weather gets chilly. A person sitting in a wheelchair gets colder much faster because they are not moving and you might not realize it.


about 4 years ago, said...

Emergency bag is a great idea.