Getting there safe and sound!
Do you think that you are the person in your care may be a high risk driver? If it seems it is no longer a safe way to get around, don’t worry. There is a network of transportation services, public and private, that will pick up the disabled and the elderly at their homes.
Community transportation services may be provided by:
home health care agencies
the local American Red Cross
the Area Agency on Aging
local public transportation companies
NOTE: Many states ensure transportation to necessary medical care for Medicaid recipients. Check with your local Medicaid office to see if you qualify.
Quick Travel Checklist
When traveling with a person with a chronic condition follow these tips:
Be sure the travel plans are mentioned to the doctor.
Bring more medications than needed, along with a list of drug names and dosages. Also bring a list of all medical conditions.
Write the primary care doctor’s phone and beeper numbers on the health insurance card, along with the date of the last tetanus injection.
Consider taking a portable grab bar on the trip.
Take an extra pair of glasses.
Have a maintenance check of the wheelchair before the trip.
Tell the travel agent or airline if you will require a wheelchair, special meal, or special seating.
In case the person becomes disabled with a life-threatening illness while traveling, to ensure that a person’s wishes are carried out take a copy of his living will and healthcare directive documents with you.
Question: How can I get the person in my care to give up his car keys? I don’t feel it’s safe for him to be behind the wheel anymore.
Answer: It can be very difficult for a person to give up their right to drive. However, if his driving becomes unsafe you may be forced to get involved. As a first step, discuss your concerns with him. If he insists on driving, move the keys or car (if possible) out of sight. If this is not practical, be sure it is mentioned to the doctor. The doctor may be able to write a “prescription” that states “no driving.”
NOTE: If you notice that you, or the person in your care, is having difficulty seeing at night and experiencing slowed reactions while driving, consider taking the driver refresher course, AARP 55 Alive/Mature Driving Program. In many states this 8-hour classroom course entitles the participant to a car insurance discount. For information on the location of a course call your local Area Agency on Aging or write to AARP 55 Alive, 601 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20049.
IT’S YOUR MONEY
There is a positive incentive you can give someone who doesn’t want to lose the independence they have driving their own car. Consider, that by getting rid of the car altogether, hundreds of dollars can be saved each month on gas, repairs, insurance and car payments. While it may seem expensive to use taxis, a lot of taxi rides can fit into the same monthly budget as a car. Once the person in your care realizes the taxis may not cost any more than her car did, she may feel free to call up a cab for occasional trips around town..
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF
Feel like you need to get away from it all? Travel doesn’t have to mean a long, expensive trip to a faraway city. Just a small day adventure can renew the spirit and open our minds. Consider planning a “day trip” for yourself over a long weekend. You can pack a lunch and explore a nearby state park or nature site, or, if you live in a big city, take a walking tour.
Transferring from a Wheelchair to a Car
Be sure the car is parked on a level surface without cracks or potholes.
1. Open the passenger door as far as possible.
Move the left side of the wheelchair as close to the car seat as possible.
Lock the chair’s wheels.
Move both footrests out of the way.
2. Position yourself facing the person.
Tell him what you are going to do.
Bending your knees and hips, lower yourself to his level.
By grasping the transfer belt around his waist help him stand while straightening your hips and knees.
If his legs are weak, brace his knees with your knees.
3. While he is standing, turn him so he can be eased down to sit on the car seat. GUIDE HIS HEAD so it is not bumped.
4. Lift his legs into the car by putting your hands under his knees.
Move him to face the front.
Put on his seat belt.
Close door carefully.
Regular, moderate exercise is critical to retaining mobility of arthritic joints, reduces stress, and helps keep weight under control. Walking is the easiest and best exercise, but be sure any new exercise program is mentioned to the doctor.
After reading this, think about how you and the person in your care can travel safely and worry-free. Answering the true or false questions below will help you in this thinking and learning process.
1. I should bring along extra medications and lists of medical conditions, doctor’s numbers, and family contacts on the trip. T F
2. Before traveling long distances with a person who has a chronic condition it is not important that the person’s doctor is consulted. T F
3. It is a good idea to take a refresher driving course when we get older to drive safely. T F
4. Airlines can have a wheelchair waiting at my destination airport if I arrange for it in advance. T F
5. Sometimes continuing to own and drive a car is more costly than taking taxis and transportation services. T F
6. Always make sure the person in your care is using their seatbelt. T F
7. Sometimes a few hours at a local nature spot is enough to make me feel like I’ve been able to “get away” for some relaxation. T F
8. When traveling, it doesn’t matter if I have copies of healthcare directive documents. T F
9. One of the best ways to exercise is walking. T F
©2002 CareTrust Publications LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any component of this publication is forbidden without a license from the publisher.