FIND MOBILITY IN DISABILITY - Tips from Dr. Marion
By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Dr. Marion Tips
STEP #7: FIND MOBILITY IN DISABILITY
- Find ways to help your elder remain independent. Restrictions on mobility can have a devastating effect on your elder's psyche. As a caregiver, it's now your job to smooth the transition, and I encourage you to make your loved one feel independent no matter what struggles are encountered.
- Encourage your elder to keep using what physical abilities he or she still has. This is especially important since he/she might feel frightened due to diminishing capacities. A sedentary person declines dramatically faster than one who still leads an active lifestyle.
- If your elder requires a wheelchair, become an expert wheelchair handler. Put yourself in the wheelchair and imagine what it would be like. Take the approach that you're going to make the best of the situation, and your attitude will go a long way toward keeping your elder as mobile as possible.
- When outside the home, be sure to use handicap-friendly accommodations. These include parking spots, toilet facilities, wheelchair exits and entrances, adapted seating in restaurants and movie theaters, and the like.
- Buy maps and laminate them so they're easier to read. You don't want your elder fumbling for directions when he or she is driving. This can make it much easier to deal with any direction and/or travel problems.
- Have your elder take a defensive driving class. Even if your elder is still competent behind the wheel, consider having him/her retested at the Department of Motor Vehicles. There might be new laws that your elder needs to know.
- Be sure that the car insurance is up to date. This sounds like a "no-brainer" but it's not uncommon for paperwork like this to lapse.
- If your elder must have driving privileges revoked, consider buying a three-wheeled bike for transportation, exercise, and fresh air. Your elder could even meet more people this way because he or she is out and about and more visible. Also consider arranging for a bus service and taxi service to take them around town.
- Show your elder how to use the subway, the bus, and the train. Also look into private limousines, taxis, car services, and carpooling. Public transportation also has senior discounts. Many communities provide transportation for the elderly, including senior centers, community centers, and religious groups. It may take some digging to find the resources, but it's worth the effort to keep your elder moving about.
- Travel can still be an exciting experience for your elder, but it takes a great deal of organization, so plan ahead. Always check for senior and/or handicapped discounts and consider traveling midweek or off-season. State bureaus of tourism, state parks, historical societies, and local chambers of commerce are all excellent sources of travel information.
©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.