People are living longer than ever before, thanks to modern medicine, technology and healthier lifestyles. As a daughter, son, niece, or nephew, you will likely be responsible for caring for an aging parent or guardian. Eldercare involves helping older people with basic care activities, such as grooming, feeding, meal preparation, providing transportation to medical care appointments, and companionship. To start a plan of care for your parents, you should know what signs to look for and what resources are available. Here are some factors for transportation and meals to consider.
Don’t take for granted what driving means to your parents—it is a symbol of independence. However, as their health and physical abilities deteriorate, driving becomes a major concern. Once they start losing mobility, consider applying for a handicap parking placard, which they can use when driving or as a passenger. You can download the application from the Motor Vehicle Administration’s website. The application will require a statement and signature from your parent’s primary care physician.
When it’s time to transition to a new form of transportation, parents will have to relinquish their driver’s licenses. They can apply for a state-issued ID or a passport. If your parent is too sick or frail to visit a photo center, work with the Department of Transportation to request an exception. The exception will permit your parent to transfer the existing photo from their driver’s license as long as it is recent.
Then assist your parents with finding suitable transportation options for the times that you can’t help:
Senior Transportation Services – Communities offer senior services through the Department of Aging. There is a nominal fee for this service, but your parents may qualify to ride at a discounted rate.
Uber – A great option when your parents are not comfortable driving anymore, but can navigate to and from their appointments on their own. This service enables you to coordinate and pay for the pickup service through their app.
How can you know how well mom and dad are eating? Look for signs that will tell you if they are struggling at mealtime. Are dishes in the sink or dishwasher? Is food in the fridge? Are containers or food in the trash? Is the food in the pantry being consumed?
To ease meal preparation and prevent stove-related fears—like forgetting to turn off the stove, leaving something unattended, or dozing off—try these suggestions:
Use smaller appliances – Microwaves and toasters are great for preparing frozen meals and single portions, with the added benefit of having a timer. They are also great for people with mobility issues.
Get appropriate utensils and cookware – Having the right tools to complete a task can make all the difference in the world. Make sure they have equipment that meets their needs, such as knives with sturdy handles, light weight cookware, microwave-safe cookware, etc.