For many people, winter is full of family, friends and food. However, winter weather may make it more complicated to get out of the house, especially when an aging family member is the one driving. Seniors without traveling caregivers have to rely on their own vehicle for transportation, and they should be aware that driving in winter weather requires additional safety measures and extra care.
Senior Travel Tips For Driving During The Holidays
Winterization Of Vehicles
Make sure the brakes, headlights and windshield wipers are working properly. Also, check on the antifreeze levels, oil levels, gas tank levels and tires. It is important, especially for seniors, that the heater and defroster are fully functioning as seniors are more susceptible to the frigid winter temperatures.
Avoid Road Closures and High Traffic Times
During heavy traffic periods, there are more people on the road and higher chances for traffic accidents. If the roads are bad, avoid using back roads and shortcuts. Many of these roads are less likely to be plowed or salted and may be more dangerous than well-traveled roads.
Put together an emergency kit to store in the trunk of the car, including:
- A blanket
- Food and water
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A first-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- An ice scraper
- Sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter to provide extra tire traction
- Extra clothing, boots and gloves
If you are a family caregiver and don’t feel comfortable with your family member driving in the winter weather, don’t hesitate to ask for help. An elderly travel companion is the perfect plus-one to get your loved one from point A to point B safely.
Family Caregiver Travel Tips
There is no doubt the holidays can be demanding. For family caregivers, this time of year can be even more difficult due to less time and additional responsibilities. FirstLight Home Care has wrapped up some tips for traveling caregivers to help them make it through the holiday season with more joy and less stress.
Establish ground rules.
In advance of family arriving, make sure you communicate the physical and mental changes or abilities of the loved one in your care so there are no surprises. It’s okay to plan for visits throughout the holidays but also plan for plenty of downtime for your loved and for you.
Ease the holiday chaos and burden by simplifying. Minimize holiday decorations in and around your loved one’s home. Also, be aware that flashing lights can be frightening to some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, while wires and decorative items can become tripping hazards.
Plan ahead of time.
The more you can do in advance of company arriving, the better it will be for you and the family member in your care.
- Encourage some of your family get-togethers to be potluck meals instead of cooking everything yourself.
- Stock up on groceries in the event of impromptu visits from friends and family.
- Purchase gift cards to have on hand for last-minute gift-giving needs.
- Hire a professional caregiver to help you with day-to-day activities around the home or with specific errands so that you have the time and energy to enjoy the holidays.
Keep your loved one on a regular routine as much as possible. Sticking with their daily habits of eating, sleeping and medication schedules will help with behavioral and emotional challenges, and it can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Ask for assistance.
Enlist the help of friends and family who may have time off during the holidays or who are in town visiting.
- Ask family members to help with grocery shopping.
- Have friends and family bring over meals that can be frozen in advance of upcoming gatherings.
- Ask a neighbor to help string up holiday lights.
- Ask family to help with wrapping gifts or take advantage of local gift-wrapping services.
- Hire traveling caregivers to come in and support you before, during and after the holidays.
The holidays can be a crazy time of year and it can be easy to let your own needs slip. However, it has been proven that when you take care of yourself, you take better care of others. Watch for these signs:
- Loss of motivation.
- Feelings of disconnection with your loved one, other relationships or work.
- Feeling depressed, irritable or hopeless.
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
Hiring an elderly travel companion can help with burnout, in addition to reading a book, taking a long walk or having coffee with a friend.
Benefits Of A Senior Travel Companion
Elderly travel companions can be great during the winter months. Not only do they keep your loved ones awake and aware, but they can also help them navigate the slippery roads and get through heavy traffic. If your loved ones don’t have someone to travel with in bad winter weather, make sure that you or someone else knows where they’re going, and they have a cell phone in case of an emergency.
Firstlight Home Care – Senior Travel Companion Services
Senior travel can be merry with the help of traveling caregivers. ‘Tis the holiday season! It’s not just about “surviving” this time of the year – it’s also about thriving. FirstLight offers a variety of services such as travel companionship to make visiting family and friends a breeze.