Seniors have a variety of needs that require transportation that is reliable and safe. If the day has come when your older loved one can no longer drive themselves safely, you may want to consider hiring a professional caregiver. Family or friends may not always be available, so it’s helpful to have other options on the table.
Most seniors will have an array of doctor appointments, errands to the grocery store, filling prescriptions, and visiting friends and loved ones. Not only is it helpful to have the safe transportation, but it’s also an added benefit for many seniors to have someone just be with them. Isolation leads to depression for anyone and seniors are no different. Maintaining independence and social interaction keeps them happier and healthier.
Here are a few tips to help you hire a caregiver who can transport the senior in your life.
1. Check on their driving record. You don’t want to trust just anyone with precious cargo, so a background check and driving history will help you determine if they are a good choice. Get a copy of their driving license or at least copy the info from it. Ask them about previous experience driving seniors, what they enjoyed, the challenges, etc.
2. Check with the DMV. This may seem a bit redundant with the first tip but getting an official copy of the driving record from the DMV will allow you to compare notes to what the caregiver has told you. To do this, call or visit the website for the DMV in your state. Keep in mind that it will only include history from that state. But this would allow you to check on the class of the license, expiration date, any restrictions or violations, and most importantly, the status of the license. The last thing you would want is someone who claims to have a safe driving record, only to find out there are multiple accidents or DUIs.
3. Ask the right questions. One effective way to ascertain whether the person is a safe driver is to ask questions about hypothetical situations. You are looking to find out how they may handle possible scenarios your older adult may deal with. Ask questions that might be likely for your senior loved one. Types of questions could include:
• What would you do if the senior doesn’t want to go to the doctor?
• How would you handle an emotional outburst of anger or frustration in the car?
• What would you do if the senior said they have to use the restroom NOW? Or has an accident?
• If the senior suddenly feels sick or unwell, what would you do first?
• How would you handle it if the senior refused to wear his/her seat belt or continues to take it off while you’re driving?
Think through these situations. You may have faced them yourself, and you’ll want to compare the caregiver’s ideas with yours. You should also make sure the caregiver is comfortable driving in possible harsh weather in your area. If you live up north, you wouldn’t want someone who is terrified of driving in the snow. Down south, there are lots of thunderstorms with heavy rain, so this is an important question to cover.
Finally, determine whose vehicle will be used. If they are using their own car, check to make sure all safety devices operate properly, such as good windshield wipers, ice scrapers, spare tires, etc. You may want to also check into a service that has an emergency panic button that would enable anyone in the vehicle to call for help.
4. Determine whose car will be used for transportation. As we stated earlier, you’ll want to make sure your comfortable with the choice of vehicles to be driven. If the care belongs to the senior, they need to be at ease driving it. Ask for a test drive on a frequent errand. Pay attention to the driving style and route taken. If there is construction going on or rush hour traffic, there should be extra caution taken to lessen the stress on both the driver and the senior adult.
Signs of poor driving that should concern you might include aggression toward other drivers (road rage), braking too harshly or suddenly, using the phone or texting while driving or speeding.
5. Decide on some ground rules. Many seniors have dementia or other mental challenges, so they can’t always make good spur-of-the-moment decisions. Some helpful “rules of the road” might include:
• Places that are always off limits, such as gambling locations or bars
• Not driving at night (if there is no reason)
• No tending to personal business or errands while with your senior loved one
• No cell phones while driving unless absolutely necessary, or at the very least, hands-free.
Create a contract of sorts and list everything in the agreement. Both parties should sign and agree on the guidelines listed.
Having aging parents or other family members can be stressful for all parties involved. One of the most difficult parts of this journey is when you must make the decision that the car keys must be taken away in the interest of safety for the senior. Driving simple errands might not seem like a big deal to most of us, but it can turn into a very emotionally charged situation when you are dealing with a senior who is feeling that they are losing their independence. Handled with care and sensitivity, this transition can be much less stressful. Hiring a caregiver who can help drive your senior loved one can lift a huge burden from your shoulders! With some careful planning, there’s no reason this can’t be a successful experience for them and for you.
For more information on transportation services for senior adults, contact us today!
Home Helpers of MetroWest is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, Alzheimer's & dementia care as well as homemaker services in Concord, Framingham, Lincoln, Marlborough, Natick, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Wellesley, and Weston, Massachusetts.