My Support Network
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.
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.
Are You Concerned About an Older Driver in your Family?
Is your loved-one experiencing mobility or memory decline?
Has your loved-one been in an accident recently or have you noticed any new marks on the car?
Are others apprehensive to drive with your loved-one?
Has your loved-one fallen?
Has your doctor or others suggest that your loved one stop driving?
Has your loved-one received any tickets or been talked to by the police?
Are you and your family struggling to broach this subject with them?
I'm Erin Dwyer - Busch and I am here to work with families who need help in addressing driving concerns with an older family member through The Keeping Us Safe Beyond Driving with Dignity Program. If you are interested in knowing more about this program or to receive a Self-Guided Program Workbook, please contact me.
Finding a New Way of Getting There
Our Dad was legally blind, could barely walk even with a cane and had trouble getting in and out of the car, so going anywhere was like going into battle. After a few tours of duty like this, it was time to retreat, re-evaluate and come up with another plan; which is exactly what we did.
Do Not Be Embarrassed About Asking For Directions
New plan. We contacted Dad's physicians about some possible options. He understood and helped us by coordinating some of his testing and evaluations at my sister's home - where he lived.
Unless you stop and ask questions, the healthcare industry is not going to tell you anything. There are so many healthcare services which may be done at home but unless you raise concerns with your loved one's healthcare provider, you will never become aware of these solutions to overcome your challenges - like it did for us.
Dad's Doctor worked with us to accommodate our needs as his Co-Caregiver's by: ordering blood tests to be performed by visiting nurses at his home, provided test results over the phone and even offered do a Doctor's visit for his annual check ups.
As the Caregiver, you have to find ways to make doing your job better. We never expected Dad's Doctor to respond this way for us. Not every outcome is like this, however, even if you are able find a single solution that makes a task better, consider it a victory.
Be open with your loved one's primary care provider and to their recommendations. They are an invaluable resource so work with them. Remember, you are all on the same Care Team. Consider working with a professional who will provide you with the extra support you may need to overcome some of these challenges or sign up for The Keeping Us Safe Beyond Driving with Dignity Programs.
When Caregivers are faced with challenges, they should try to be open to alternate ways of using various solutions to help overcome them. Caregivers should explore mixing and matching different tools, services and resources; sometimes in creative ways, which will lead to a more positive outcome of this task. If you find working these issues too challenging, there are professional services; such as Geriatric Consultant available to help you.
Every Caregiver should have a Transport Wheelchair at their disposal. Since your loved one's safety is your responsibility, this 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.
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!
This is an experience from our Journey that may help you:
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.
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.
Appointments In Place
It may be an option to have proactive lab work performed by a visiting nurse at home. This would be ordered by the doctor and is covered by most insurances. Speak with your loved one's physician. All you have to do is ask!
Home Care Agencies
Home Care Agencies 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.
A Home care aide would drive the client to the appointment, remain with them and then bring them home. The scope of this service is usually outlined in the contract with the Home Care Agency. Typically, there is a 3-4 hour minimum plus a mileage charge when the home care aide uses their own vehicle. Take the time to understand all of the services your Home Care Agency is able to provide.
Being able to accomplish daily routines, Caregivers need to learn how to become good delegators. It is also a Caregiver's responsibility to support your loved one to remain as active as possible. If they are able to maneuver in and out of a car safely and still enjoy grocery shopping or to their own doctor's appointments, then be open to using different solutions in order to get the job done.
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. Visit Eldercare Locator to find an Office on the Area of Aging.
Did you that your loved one may qualify to receive transportation at a discounted rate? Check with the Department on Aging in your area to see if your parent qualifies.
Some local 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.
GoGo 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. Find more solutions like this here.
Traveling, vacationing or weekend Getaways are still possible - even for the Caregiver. Having the opportunity for some time for yourself or with your spouse is important for your own well-being.
Being a Caregiver should not feel like a life sentence. Life should still be enjoyed. You only have to feel empowered and confident in the decisions you have made and in the people who are part of your Support Network, then it becomes possible for you to Get-A-Way with or without them.
Options for Getting-A-Way Without them:
Hire the 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
Options for Getting-A-Way With them:
It is possible to travel with an aging loved one or with someone with physical limitations.
Specialty Travel services such as the one here caters to traveler with diagnoses such as Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, Diabetes, etc., as well as their caregivers and family members. disabilities.
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.
Even if your loved one is able to get around pretty well on their own, take advantage of any help and services that are available; such as Wayfinder Advantage, to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone - especially for the Caregiver!
Road Work Ahead
There are many solutions available to help the Caregiver but you need to know that they even exist in order to implement them.
FYI MEDICARE TELEHEALTH SERVICES
Medicare telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and certain other medical or health services that are provided by an eligible provider who isn't at your location using an interactive 2-way telecommunications system (like real-time audio and video).
These services are available in rural areas, under certain conditions, but only if you're located at one of these places:
A doctor's office
A critical access hospital (CAH)
A rural health clinic
A hospital-based dialysis facility
A skilled nursing facility
A community mental health center
FYI DRIVER'S LICENSES
Did you know that 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.
Here is something we encountered while on our our journey:
What happens if your loved one is unable to get to a Photo Center to have their photo taken for their new State ID because they are not able to travel in a car safely? This was the case with our Dad.
By working with the Department of Transportation in your State, you may be able to request an exception. The exception will permit your parent to transfer their 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 a Primary Care provider and it must declare that this individual is unable to be moved due to health reasons. Its a lengthy process and Photo IDs are a necessity; therefore, address it as quickly as possible.
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.
Your Home Work Assignment:
Talk with your loved one's Primary Care Provider about services that may be done at in the home.
Inquire with the Home Care Agency about driving services
Complete a Handicap Placard request by visiting your States DMV website.
Monitor the expiration date of your loved one's Driver's License.
Explore the possibility of an overnight Get-A-Way.