Adventures in Eldercare - December 2010
The world of so many elderly frail seniors becomes smaller and smaller, often reduced to a single room. So it is often in the spirit of the season that we try to brighten up and expand that world by taking our elderly relatives or friends out of that quiet environment to enjoy holiday festivities. With proper planning holiday outings can be enjoyable for all.
There are situations that require specific planning but the number one rule for ALL outings is, give yourself plenty of time. Nothing can ruin an outing quicker than rushing the senior from their room into a car and racing to a destination. Arrive for pick up early, allot a generous amount of time to dress warmly and get out to the car. The driver and the vehicle should also be familiar. Don’t send Cousin Donnie in his purple mustang just because he is laying there on the couch, let Donnie peel the potatoes and you take the familiar Oldsmobile and a warm smile!
If the outing is to an unfamiliar place, like a banquet hall or a new restaurant some pre-planning is required. Take away the fear of the unknown by going over the agenda a few days before. Discuss pick up time, travel distance, appropriate dress and the type of food or entertainment for the outing. A few pictures of the establishment from the internet or a brochure can go a long way to relieve anxiety.
Always phone the establishment ahead. This is important to alert the establishment to your needs, such as room at the table for a wheelchair or any special dietary needs but also allows you to inquire about the location of and the accessibility of washroom facilities, the most convenient drop off point and parking, any stairs or other obstacles to expect.
Anticipate items that you may need over the course of the outing; a back support or chair cushion, extra supplies in case of accidents. Be aware of any medications that have to be taken with meals or at specific times and make sure you have them with you. Don’t over-estimate your own capabilities, invite a third person along, the more the merrier and an extra hand helps when dealing with mobility issues.
Most importantly, always consider the desire and abilities of your elder friend or relative. You may think this outing is a grand idea but if you have to coax or cajole them, it might be better to tune down your plans a bit and recognise that they may just not be up to it and you may have to accept that out of respect for them. This may be disappointing to you but it may be in the best interests of the elder.
Dr. Bruce Veltri operates Victoria Eldercare, a non-medical home care agency matching exceptional care-givers with elderly seniors to help them maintain independence and remain safely in their own home. Victoria Eldercare can be contacted by phone, 519-429-2644 or through our web-site, www.victoriaeldercare.com.