Transportation Safety for your Aging Parents and Elderly Clients
For the past month we’ve talked about safety in various forms. An often overlooked, but important aspect of safety will be addressed today as we explore transportation safety. Whether your parents or clients walk, utilize their personal vehicle, or access public transportation such as subways, buses, trains, or taxi cabs their safety should be evaluated periodically.
If your parents live close to shops, restaurants, and their friends they may get around by walking most of the time. Take the time during a visit to walk with them and observe the surroundings.
* Are there sidewalks?
* Are the sidewalks even, well-kept, and wide enough to ambulate easily?
* Are there major thoroughfares to be crossed?
* Are there traffic lights, stop signs, and well-lit cross walks?
* Observe your parent’s, or client’s, gait as they ambulate. Is it steady?
* Are the sidewalks cleared of snow in winter?
* Are there street lights illuminating the sidewalk?
Paying attention to the items listed above can allow you and your parents the opportunity for a discussion on their personal safety, the safety of the neighborhood, and possible alternate routes or alternate methods of getting to their destinations.
In today’s sprawling and busy world senior citizens are driving more frequently and further distances than ever before. If your parents, or clients, utilize their personal vehicle as the major mode of transportation there are a number of issues to consider including the overall condition of the vehicle and the individual ability of the driver.
Regarding the vehicle:
* Who monitors and performs regular maintenance checks (oil, tire pressure, brakes)?
* Do the windshield wipers work properly and are they in good condition?
* Are seat belts installed in the vehicle and do drivers and passengers use them?
* Is the interior of the vehicle neat and clear of clutter on the floor?
* Are all headlights, tail lights, and brake lights operating correctly?
* Are vehicle registrations and insurance policies current?
Take a drive with everyone who operates the vehicle. This doesn’t need to be obvious, but a trip to the store or pharmacy, a drive in the country, or a visit to a friend will allow you to see how the vehicle functions and whether the operator of the vehicle is using basic safety techniques.
* Observe for proper use of turn signals.
* Can the operator see clearly out the window and use mirrors effectively?
* Can the operator reach the pedals and controls with ease?
* Is the operator at ease while driving?
* While operating the vehicle is the driver focused on driving or easily distracted?
* Does the operator have a history of color blindness or decreased vision?
* Does it appear that the operator is having difficulty seeing?
* Does the operator have a current, and valid, driver’s license?
If vision problems appear to be evident ask your parent, or client, to have their vision tested. A simple prescription change in glasses can often alleviate vision problems. If however, vision has deteriorated to the point where the individual should no longer be driving more in-depth conversation, and special handling, will be needed as the subject of letting go of driving privileges is discussed. (I won’t go into the subject here, but if you have questions or comments on it please feel free to share. I will respond and provide some viable solutions if there is interest).
For those living in cities where public transportation is available it is often cheaper and more convenient to take the bus, subway, or train than to own a private vehicle. Be sure to once again go out with your parents or clients and observe their use of the available options.
* Observe the route to the bus stop or station. Is it safe, well-lit, easily utilized?
* Are there benches available to await pick-up?
* Is your parent or client able to manage stairs if necessary?
* Is there a posted schedule? Do you parents have a bus or train schedule at home?
* Are tokens used in place of cash? Do your parents, or clients, carry extras?
* Are your parents, or clients familiar with the regular drivers?
There are so many variables when using public transportation, but if utilized with regularity and safety measures in mind it can be a convenient and effective method of travel. Encouraging your parents, or clients, to follow a few basic planning measures gives them the benefit of a safer and more enjoyable experience on public transportation. Discuss with them the need to have extra tokens or a small amount of cash on hand for emergencies, the need to be alert at all times, the increased safety of traveling with one or more other people, the advisability of traveling during daylight hours or in well-lit areas, and most of all emphasize that this is for their safety, not an aspect of you trying to control their lives.
For parents, or clients, who live in more urban areas but are unable to drive or use public transportation the option of taxi or car service may exist. If this is the case make an effort to build a relationship with the company. Take a ride with your parents, or clients, utilizing the service to observe and evaluate the service.
* Are the vehicles clean and well maintained?
* Are the drivers courteous and willing to assist in loading packages?
* Do the drivers speak clearly and are they easily understood?
* Does the driver take a direct route to the destination unless asked to do otherwise?
* Does the driver utilize safe driving methods (turn signals, posted speed, concentration)?
* What is your comfort level? What is the comfort level with this service reported by your parents, or clients?
If your parents are comfortable with the service and your observation is that the company meets their needs, responds well, is safe, and displays a professional attitude toward their clients this can be a very good method of transportation.
The items listed above for all aspects of transportation safety are by no means an exhaustive list. There will be an entire section of the book devoted to this subject with checklists and suggestions. The greatest benefit for both you and your parents, or clients, will come by observing, discussing, and collaboratively developing solutions to any issues that arise. Be sure to re-assess all areas of safety on a frequent basis so problems can be solved before they are major issues.
Do you have a comment, story, or issue related to safety you’d like addressed? Feel free to share in the comment section below or connect with me directly via e-mail Medwoman@q.com.