"When our Mom became ill, everything changed so fast for my sister and I. We found ourselves in unfamiliar territory and and alone. We struggled with so many things. We wished there had been a place to turn for information and support."
One of the hardest things we had to do on this is tell our Dad that it was time to give up his driver's license. We take for granted what driving means to our parents- it is a symbol of their freedom. However, as their health and physical abilities deteriorate, driving becomes a major concern. Some parents may be more accepting if it and many will have a hard time with it.
When is the right time to talk to your parent about giving up driving? There are many different triggers. Most of the time, it is happens because of a health condition. For us, it was about a year after our Dad had a stroke that affected his vision. It sometimes happens under the advisement of their doctor. For others it becomes evident by the growing number of bumps and dents on their car. Regardless of the reason, it will be important to have a game plan to address their logistic needs.
In this section, we address the ways of getting your parent to and from their destination safely and on-time. In addition, we suggest other components for you to use in your plan. The key to achieving this goal is by having a reliable network and the right products in place.
THESE ARE SEVERAL ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PLAN:
THE DRIVER'S LICENSE
When your parent gives up driving, they will also have to relinquish their Driver's License, too. Like most of us, our driver's license is our only form of identification. The alternatives will be to apply for a State Issued ID or a Passport ID Card. A State Issued ID is available through the Department of Motor Vehicle.
Did you know that when your parents give up their Driver's License they will need to get another form of photo ID? A Photo ID is available from the State. But what happens if your parents cannot visit a Photo Center to have a photo taken for it because they are too sick or frail to be moved. By working with the Department of Transportation in your State, you will be able to request an exception. The exception will permit your parent to transfer the existing photo from their Driver's License, as long as it is recent, onto the new State Photo ID. This process requires a letter from your parents primary doctor stating that they are unable to be moved due to health reasons. This is a lengthy process therefore should be addressed as quickly as possible since a Photo ID is a necessity.
TRANSPORT CHAIR/WHEEL CHAIR
Getting around with a parent who has mobility issues is a challenge. To help in getting them to and from their destination safely, consider purchasing a lightweight transport chair- like one pictured here. It will be very helpful for those walks to and from the car; especially when you are tight on time or in inclement weather.
Some parents may object to being in a wheelchair. However, when you explain to them that it is not only for their safety, but yours too. They should realize that by holding onto you, you are going to go down with them if they fall. In addition, this is a better way of being transported when they are in the company of someone other than you.
Did you know that wheel chairs are covered under Medicaid/Medicare? Under their medicare, individuals may receive a new transport device once every five years. A transport device is: a wheel chair, a power wheel chair, a walker or a cane. This is a benefit to which your parent may be entitled. Consult with their primary healthcare provider for a script.
FLYING WITH A PARENT
When your parent is flying alone, the terminal offers both an escort or a wheel chair with an escort who will bring your all the way to the gate from the curb. These services are available at the time of ticket purchase or at the Check In Counter. Most airports will not permit you to escort them to the gate if you do not have a boarding pass. Check with your airport regarding accompanying an elderly parent. Even when your parent is still able to get around on their own just fine, this may be a more comfortable way for them to travel through a airport.
SENIOR TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
Most communities offer senior services available through the Department on Aging. Transportation is one of these available services. There is a nominal fee for this service, but if they qualify they may be able to ride at a discounted rate. This is a curbside pick up service via a shuttle bus or private car from their home to a destination; however, a Healthcare Aide or Care Manager may ride along for an additional fee. Here is more information about this service.
Did you know that if they qualify, your parents may be able to receive transportation at a discounted rate? Check with the Department on Aging in your area to see if your parent qualifies.
HANDICAP PARKING PLACARDS
Handicap placards are available for your parent if they are still driving or for the vehicle used by them. Your parent may apply for one by downloading the application from the Department of Transportation's website. The application will require a statement and signature from your parent's primary care physician.
HOME HELPER SERVICE PROVIDERS
Home Helper Services will take their clients to appointments. The care provider will take your parent to the appointment, remain with them and then bring them home. This is a contracted service at a 3-4 hour minimum with a mileage charge when using the providers vehicle. The other option is for them to use yours or your parents vehicle. For this option, make sure that you have proper insurance coverage on your vehicle. Contact your insurance agent to inform them that someone outside of your household will be using your vehicle for this purpose.
Did you know that a Home Helper Service Providers make excellent companions for your parent? In addition to taking your parent to a doctor's appointment, they will also take them out to lunch, to the park, grocery shopping, to the movies, or to visit a friend. They will help your parents maintain a level of freedom in addition to providing companionship and safety.
Some colleges/universities are partnering with agencies offering support services to the elderly in the form of companionship, housekeeping, meal delivery, handling errands, doing laundry or other routine tasks. This is a relatively new concept and we will have more information on this as it becomes available. However, if you are interested in pursuing this on your own, reach out to local colleges that offer Healthcare or Senior Care as part of their curriculum.
Who doesn't love UBER? UBER is a transportation option when your parents are not comfortable driving anymore, but can navigate to and from their appointment on their own. The UBER service enables you to coordinate and pay for the pick up service through an APP. This is a viable solution to for getting to and from doctor appointments as long as your parent can walk to and from the car.
If you’re not local (or available) enough to shop for mom or chauffeur her to the hairdresser, you can hire a personal “envoy.” Envoy employs highly vetted human helpers—according to the company, less than 5% of those who apply make the cut. You can book the same person each time or choose from a local roster whenever you need someone. This is a regional service with more cities being added.
CARELINX - The site matches elders with caregivers who live in their area. Start by filling out a questionnaire listing the kind of care they’ll need and how often, then select from a list of candidates. You can hire directly through the site or speak with a CareLinx representative to make your choice and arrange payment. Available nationwide. The fees for caregivers typically range from $11 to $25 an hour.
Did you know that you can mix and match services? With so much on your plate, it is nice to have options in services to help with the care needs of your parents. For example, in order to get your parent to and from a Doctor's appointment, use UBER along with a Home Care Service Provider.
APPOINTMENTS IN PLACE
Proactive lab work can be ordered by the doctor to be done in the home by a visiting nurse. This is something that is covered by most insurances. Speak with your parents primary physician about it. All you have to do is ask!
Did you know that some doctors will still make house calls? When your parent is too frail to be driven to an appointment, their doctor may decide to make a house call. This is not common however some doctors will do it for a long time patient. All you have to do is ask.
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