Family caregivers know that sometimes it can be challenging to take a senior parent with Alzheimer’s out of the house in the car. When seniors are in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s they may get carsick. Or they may take off their seat belt, try to open the door while the car is moving, or grab at the wheel while someone is driving.
Distracted driving can be dangerous. So family caregivers need to do everything they can to keep seniors with Alzheimer’s safe while they are in the car which will allow them to drive without distraction. According to Alzheimer’s home care professionals some of things family caregivers can do to keep seniors safe in a car are:
Whenever possible, have Alzheimer’s home care for your senior parent. A caregiver experienced with helping seniors with Alzheimer’s can keep an eye on your senior parent and play games with them or distract them during the drive so that you can focus on safe driving.
Use Seat Belts
Always make sure that seniors are wearing a seat belt. If your senior parent had a tendency to release the seat belt and take it off while the car is in motion put a child lock or guard on the seat belt so that it can’t be easily undone.
Secure Child Locks
To prevent the senior from accidentally opening car doors while the vehicle is moving, activate child locks on rear doors and windows. This ensures that they can’t exit the car without assistance.
Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Limit distractions inside the car. Ensure a calm and quiet environment to help the senior concentrate on the road. Avoid loud music, phone calls, or other distractions that can make driving more challenging. Playing soothing music like classical music or a meditation CD may help keep your senior parent calm. Or play some music that they really enjoy.
Plan Short Trips
Shorter trips are generally safer for seniors with Alzheimer’s. Try to limit car rides to essential destinations and avoid long, exhausting journeys.
Stick to familiar routes whenever possible. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty navigating new or unfamiliar roads, which can increase their anxiety and confusion.Avoid Rush Hours and
Peak Traffic Times
Plan trips during off-peak hours to reduce the stress of heavy traffic and the risk of road rage incidents. Try to keep your cool at all times because your senior parent will notice if you are upset. If they think they have made you upset or done something wrong they may get agitated or upset.
Schedule frequent rest breaks during longer journeys to allow the senior to stretch their legs, use the restroom, and reduce feelings of restlessness.
Have a “Senior Emergency Kit”
Keep a senior emergency kit in the car, including items like water, snacks, fidget toys, a doll or something else that typically distracts or soothes your senior parent, and some extra clothes, a blanket, and anything else your senior parent may need.
Teach the senior how to exit the car safely in case of an emergency. Practice unlocking doors and using handles.
Some families opt for GPS tracking devices that can be discreetly placed in the car to monitor the senior’s location and ensure their safety. These devices can provide peace of mind in case the senior becomes lost.