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. Dad loved his cars and he enjoyed driving. He and Mom were always escaping somewhere and that somewhere was down to the casinos.
We don't realize 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.
So when is the right time to talk to your parent about giving up driving? It is really hard to say because the reasons will be different for all of us; however, there are several common triggers.
The most common reason is due to a health condition. For us, it was about a year after our Dad had a stroke which affected his vision. Dad was still holding onto his keys and driver's license because he was determined that he will drive again - which he never did.
For others it becomes evident by the growing number of bumps and dents on their car. You wonder, was that dent there before or when did this one happen; but Dad would never say anything about it. It is somewhat comical that when Dad puts a dent in the car, nothing is said about it, but when we were kids and dented the car - boy did we hear about it!
Regardless of the reason, it will be important to have a game plan to address their logistic needs so that is what we are going to be talking about today.
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.
Defining Moments: Traveling with a parent today is not as fun as when we were kids. Now they may have physical limitations, so taking them to an appointment is like preparing for battle.
Load the combat vehicle with the wheelchair, a vomit bag, get Dad into the car -off we go.
Driving along - quick pull over, man down, Dad is getting car sick. Made it to the appointment, but No ADA ramp. Ugh!! Finish with the appointment, then back in the car headed home.
Major Intersection Ahead
Eventually, there will be a point in time when your loved one must relinquish their driver's license. When is that time and how to go about doing it?
We take for granted what it means to have a driver's license. Giving up driving is as much a major event as was learning how to drive at the age of 16. It is a symbol of our freedom that now must given it up.
Having the conversation with your loved one about giving up their driver's license or to stop driving is going to be difficult for you and emotional for them. Your job as the Caregiver is to keep them safe, however, they will not see it that way.
Book Mark This resource!
Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects older adults and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources such as transportation options.
Time to give up driving?
When should my parent give up their driver's license? For our Dad, it was easier than for most since his vision never returned after a stroke, but it was still hard for him. For you, you may have to bring in reinforcements such as their primary care provider or other family members to get through this.
Everyone's situation will be different. Usually, it is because of a health condition. Sometimes it happens under the advisement of their doctor. For most of us, 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 logistical needs because it will come up during this discussion with them - how will I get my prescriptions, I don't want to depend on anyone, how will I get to my doctor's appointments.
There are not many positive things to be said about the recent Pandemic, but the one positive affect it has had is on fast tracking the in-home healthcare services industry.
When my sister and I were caring for our Dad from 2010 - 2019, none of the services we have today were readily available. It was a struggle trying to request an accommodation to have some of Dad's care performed in the home - blood draws, wellness visits, monitoring, or even a Doctor's visit.
Finding a New Way of Getting There
Even though today there are many services that are able to be performed in the home, there still may be the need to Mom or Dad to travel in a car. So what are some ways to do it?
First of all, every Caregiver should have a Transport Wheelchair at their disposal because your loved one's safety is your responsibility. A Transport Wheelchair is a tool to have for those long walks to and from the car; especially when you are tight on time or in inclement weather. In addition, this is a better way for them to be transported when they are in the company of someone other than you!
But what if your loved one objects to being in a wheelchair. The safety of the Caregiver is just as important as the one you are caring for. Explain to them that riding in the wheelchair is not only for their safety, but yours too. They should realize that it is not safe for them to use you as a crutch or holding onto you. If they fall, you are going to go down with them!
Did you know!
Under Medicare, individuals may receive a new transport device once every five years. A transport device is: a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, a walker or a cane. This is a benefit to which your parent may be entitled. It is important to understand these benefits in order to reduce any out of pocket expenses. Consult with their primary healthcare provider for a script.
We made the mistake of allowing the rehab facility issue our Dad a cane. Later on, we had to purchase a wheelchair for him at our own expense. Had we known this bit of information, we would have paid for the cane and asked the rehab facility to issue Dad a wheelchair instead.
Another great way of helping your parent get around town are Home Care Agencies. They provide more than just patient care services or companionship. They help your loved one maintain a level of independence, too by taking them on errands, out to lunch or to visit a friend in addition to taking them on appointments.
Another solution are Transportation Services offered through the Department on Aging. There is a nominal fee for this service, but if they qualify they may be able to ride at a discounted rate. Visit Eldercare Locator to find an Office on the Area of Aging.
Here is another innovative service, GOGO GrandParent! GoGo Grandparent turns on demand transportation companies like Lyft into services that can be accessed and monitored without a smartphone. Your agent for affordable rides, 24/7 operators add reliability and extra eyes. Keep emergency contacts in the loop.
It is hard to imagine ever being able to travel or vacation these days, but hopefully someday it will be possible. So let's be positive about it and at least have a Get-A-way plan in place for it.
Traveling, vacationing or weekend Getaways are still possible - even for the Caregiver with or without our loved one.
The Plan for a Get-A-Way Without them:
Hire a Home care agencies to provide 24 hour care services
Respite Care at a local Living Care Facility - This is a short term stay at a daily rate
Assemble tag team coverage with a combination of family, friends, home care agency
The Plan for a Get-A-Way With them:
It is possible to travel with an aging loved one or with someone with physical limitations.
There are specialty Travel Services which cater to travelers with diagnoses such as Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, Diabetes, etc., as well as their caregivers and family members. disabilities. (Contact Us for more information.)
Airlines provide services for travelers with physical limitations. You are able to request a wheelchair with an escort who will bring the traveler 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.
Making a You-Turn
So let's go back to the start of our Blog on driving Mr. Steve, who is our Dad-btw. There are a few more things you will need to know for when your parent does give up their Driver's License. For example, what exactly does this mean?
When you give up driving, you must relinquish your Driver's License, too. Like most of us, our driver's license is our only form of identification.
When the time comes for this, your loved one will need to apply for another form of Government issued identification. It will be either a State Issued ID or a Passport ID card; if they have a current passport. To obtain a State Issued ID, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicle.
FYI 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.
Stopping And Asking For Directions
Sometimes you may not be sure about what to do and you may have to stop and ask for directions. That's ok, because I'll be here to help and answer them.
Here are some other resources I found along the way that may be helpful as you work through this process with your loved one:
Becoming prepared to have the Talk About Giving Up Driving here.
Here is another great resource to help you with this: Meet Erin Dwyer - Busch who works with families who need help in addressing driving concerns with an older family member through The Keeping Us Safe Beyond Driving with Dignity Program.
You've Reached Your Destination
My goal in sharing this story with you today is so that you'll be more prepared and equipped to navigate the challenges you'll be encountering while on the Journey with your aging loved one.
There are no APPs on this which you'll find in the istore nor an address that you can punch in for Google to guide you to, however, there is a place where you can go to become better prepared and aware of it all. Hope you will check in here soon.