When you, as the adult child of a senior with need, assume the responsibilities of caretaker for your elder loved one, it may become difficult to balance your responsibilities for assisting your parent with their life and finding time to live your own. Life’s special occasions and landmark events may occasionally create need for you to break away and take some time off from your duties as caregiver.
An anniversary dinner with your spouse, a daughter’s dance recital, or an important business trip may call for attention and priority. With proper planning and anticipation, your world doesn’t have to fall apart with anxiety and guilt whenever you can’t personally be around to look after your senior loved one’s needs and have to take caregiving breaks. Below we provide some helpful strategies for how to take a break from your caregiving duties while still keeping your peace of mind.
- Call friends and family to care-give while you are away. Typically these are the people closest to you that you can trust to monitor and care for your elder loved one properly. Another plus, is that your elder parent probably already has a comfortable, relaxed relationship with these people, and there is no risk of awkward unfamiliarity or new introductions. Usually your close friends and family will gladly help you out with monitoring a senior loved one, so it is free or relatively cheap to enlist their care.
- In-home care and other personal care assistants can take care of business at home when you cannot. In home care professionals and skilled nurses can be elder companions qualified to look after a senior’s needs and keep the house habitable. Trusting a stranger to watch over your loved one may be a little unnerving at first, so make sure to find someone with a good referral, whether from a friend or reliable reviews and testimonies on in-home care agency websites online.
- Adult day care facilities may be a good alternative to in-home care in circumstances where you have to be away for long periods of time during the day. Adult day care provides an escape from the boredom and tedium of sitting around the house all day by giving seniors who need monitoring and medical attention a social and recreational outlet under the watch of trained professionals.
- Assisted living may be a viable option for seniors who may still be able to live relatively independently but just need a little help with some daily tasks, such as dining, dressing, bathing, etc. Placing your senior loved one in a reputable assisted living facility nearby may allow you the security of knowing your senior loved one is safe and in good hands, with you on call to meet any additional needs if necessary.
Caregiving for senior parents is done by adult children of various lifestyles. Some caregivers have the time to stay at home and offer more direct, continuous care than others who may have a career to balance with their caregiving duties. Regardless of your living circumstance, there are options available to make sure your senior loved one continues to receive the care he or she requires in the moments when you must be called away. It is not neglectful to place an elder in the care of a trusted professional for times when you have other obligations to attend to or need caregiving breaks.
Senior citizens in America often have a stereotypical stigma for poor driving capabilities. However, getting older does not automatically impair your driving skills. The changes brought on by age in senior’s bodies may affect physical and cognitive traits used for driving, but there are ways that seniors can consciously improve their driving skills to keep their license for longer in spite of these changes by being careful.
How exactly does age affect senior driving abilities?
- Alzheimer and dementia – As senior Americans enter into their later years, they often become more susceptible to cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, diseases that affect memory, thinking, and problem solving skills.
- Eyesight and hearing impairment – Hindrances to vision and hearing brought on by aging can affect senior driving for reading signs and environmental cues. Senior eyesight may become too sensitive to the sun through the windshield or headlights at night as well. Seniors can check their eyesight and hearing at a doctors office to be deemed safe for the road.
- Arthritis disease – diseases affecting the hands and dexterity can be harmful to senior driving abilities when handling the wheel.
- Bad joints – Additionally, the joints used in turning the wheel, putting on a seatbelt, and operating a car’s brakes and accelerator can become an issue for senior driving.
- Reflexes – Certain cognitive impairments can affect the reflexes necessary for making fast reactions to traffic occurrences or responding to traffic signals and signs, or abrupt stops. Aging may result in a shorter attention span and reduced multi-tasking skills needed for navigating a dynamic road.
- Physical disabilities and pain – Sometimes injuries and health development result in states of pain and discomfort that can become distracting and hazardous to a senior’s ability to focus on the road.
- Over-cautiousness – Seniors are often aware of their fragility and cognitive problems, but do not want to risk losing their license by making mistake. This results in some seniors being overly cautious and driving dangerously slow (to avoid speeding or accidents) but may put others at risk who are trying to maneuver around them.
Seniors viewing loosing their drivers license as equivalent to loosing their freedom in the 21st century world. To make sure that you are still capable of road traveling, a senior may submit themselves for a driver refresher course. Costs for driver refresher courses are often covered by the AARP for senior members.
Smart Driving Tips to Help You Keep Your License
- Only drive in familiar areas, plan your route ahead of time for new destinations to reduce anxiety and possible confusion
- Try to make trips to places that are close and easy to reach.
- Allow for extra time when making a trip or outing, so you are not rushed or prone to make any irrational driving decisions
- Do not drive when you feel stress or exhaustion. Arrange for a carpool or get a ride when you feel these symptoms.
- Be aware of the side effects of medicines, and whether or not it is advisable to operate machinery or drive after a dose.
- Always wear a seatbelt when driving; it is not only critical for safety, but the law of the land.
- For seniors who use cell phones or smartphones, always be sure not to add the extra hazardous distraction of talking on the phone or texting while driving.
- Regularly check your mirrors while driving to maintain a sense of your surroundings.
- For the safety and comfort of others, try not to drive to close behind anyone driving in front of your vehicle.
When is it time to give up driving?
Pay attention for the exterior signs and indications of when it may be at last time to consider giving up driving for the sake of your health and safety. If you are experiencing:
- Large amounts of other drivers honking at you frequently
- Have you been having many close-calls or accidents lately
- Are you getting lost often while on the road
- Have members of your family expressed concern
Other Transportations Options
Retiring your license is not the end of the world. A senior can find many alternative methods for getting around when driving is not longer an option. You may get a ride from members of your family when living at home. Public transportation like buses and cabs are available in city areas. Many senior living facilities offer transportation for senior residents as well.