For a Better Commute. For Better Connected Communities in Prince William & Stafford, Va.
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Make local travel easier for the senior in your life

We know what it’s like to live in this area. Between the busyness of everyday living, the demands continuously made of us and the traffic, it’s enough to try the sanity of even the most level-headed among us. So imagine what it’s like for the senior in your life who has to travel locally with you. Not only can they feel your stress, they have their own issues to manage.

We’ve worked with families enough to know that no one wants tempers to flare or plans to be disrupted, especially over something that could have been avoided by implementing some simple strategies. Because we understand how easy it is to get derailed by even the little things, we’ve put together these tips and reminders to help make traveling locally with your senior as smooth and painless as possible. Let’s get started.

One week or more before the trip – Yes, prep starts this early. It begins by being judicious about setting appointments or scheduling errands. Based on the needs of the senior in your care, book appointments and activities in segments that are reasonable. Don’t try to cram multiple appointments in on the same day if you don’t have to. And avoid running from one side of town to another if you can group your errands geographically. If you don’t plan this part wisely, the whole local travel experience can quickly become a tiresome exercise in frustration that rarely ends well.

48 to 12 hours before the trip – This is probably going to be mostly a period of observation. Pay attention to how the senior in your care is feeling emotionally and physically. If they have been having specific challenges close to the scheduled local travel, you’ll want to judge whether or not the plans you’ve made still make sense. Address any issues as soon as possible. Even if all is well, during this period you’ll want to remind your senior about the plans you’ve made together. It’s good to jog the memory as often as needed, and doing so can give the senior in your care something to look forward to.

Four to three hours before the trip – Depending on the needs of the senior in your care, you will need to allow plenty of time for getting ready. Choosing clothing, then bathing, dressing, eating, and discussing plans again, can be time consuming. Decrease stress by allowing enough time to get everything done at a comfortable pace.

Two hours before the trip – This is a good time for the senior in your care to relax a little while you do things like ready yourself and gather necessary items for the excursion. Veteran caregivers keep a physical or mental list of must-have items for the drive. These can include medical equipment, medication, snacks, books, checkbooks, credit cards, phones, extra clothing and sanitary items. Make sure you have enough of everything. You don’t want to run out of necessities like oxygen or blood sugar testing strips before you return home.

One hour before the trip – Remind the senior in your care that you are getting ready to leave. Take care of any last minute toileting or hygiene. Don’t expect to be able to rush out the door and jump into the car. Give yourself plenty of time to address any mobility issues. This is also a good time to reassess your senior’s mood. Some seniors become anxious as it gets closer to leaving the home where they know they have everything they need. Remind them you’ve planned and packed, and review with them what you have on hand. If your senior reminds you of something you’ve overlooked, be grateful they told you before you walked out the door!

In the car – Help the senior in your care into the vehicle. Make them comfortable and assist with the seatbelt, double checking to ensure it is fastened correctly. Play soothing music or enjoy a light conversation. Drive safely. And don’t be surprised if you need to stop prior to reaching your destination. If you’ve planned ahead, you know this is a possibility, and you’ll have plenty of time to take care of those emergency bathroom breaks.

Upon arrival – Arrange everything so that when you help the senior in your care out of the vehicle, you don’t have to leave them standing unassisted while you rush around and gather the items you’ve packed. If this means they have to sit in the car for a few moments while you prepare, that’s fine. Better to have everything organized so you’ll have free hands to help out your fellow traveler.

When you look at this list, you might say, wow. That’s an awful lot of preparation just to run a few errands or make it to an appointment. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re right. Traveling with seniors requires more work and strategy than many younger people are accustomed to. The good news is, the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more enjoyable your time spent together becomes. It’s these little local adventures that can mean a lot to the senior in your life. And that makes the effort well worth it.  

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.

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