It can be tricky to help elderly adults who have limited movement, or people who don’t understand instructions well, to get positioned comfortably in the car.
Common Transportation Challenges in the Older Adult
Many conditions may occur more commonly as we age. Several of these changes can cause transportation and travel challenges. Be patient while assisting.
When transporting an older adult with a vision impairment, explain exactly what you are doing and why.
Ask if they would like assistance before providing it.
If they use a cane, always lead by standing on the opposite side of the cane, and stay one-half pace ahead.
If possible, have them exit from the non-traffic side of the car.
Problems with Balance
As people age, they are more likely to lose some muscle strength, develop arthritis and have changes in the inner ear, all which affect balance. This can make getting in and out of a car and positioning in the car difficult for some elderly adults.Allow an older adult plenty of time to enter and exit the car. Also give plenty of time for them to regain balance when shifting positions, such as moving from sitting to standing.
People with joint pain, such as arthritis, may find it painful to enter and exit a vehicle. Give your passenger extra time and provide assistance with a gentle touch. People with dementia often will not be able to tell you they have pain, or where they pain is, but they can become very agitated. If you ask them directly if they are having pain, they may be able to correctly answer yes or no.
A few tips to help elderly adults dealing with transportation challenges.
Positioning an older adult in a vehicle
Make sure that the older adult’s seat belt is securely fastened while in transit and that they do not unfasten it until the vehicle has come to a complete stop.
Provide assistance when the person enters or exits the vehicle, but do not make them feel rushed. Give the older adult extra time to do what is needed.
If the older adult has had a stroke and has right-sided or left-sided weakness, seat his affected side nearest the door (i.e. if a left-sided weakness, then seat on the driver-side of the back seat). This can help with balance and allows you to position the weaker side into the car and also encourages the older adult to assist.
It may be helpful to keep a pillow in the car to help with positioning. A shoulder strap seat belt can also help.
Providing Assistance to Agitated Passengers
Agitation in older adults with underlying memory issues may be due to a number of issues including pain, illness, inability to verbally communicate what they need (such as the need to go to the bathroom), or fear or frustration at the current situation. For example, they may be agitated because they forgot who to enter the car or where they are going. Being patient and offering simple directions in a calm way can help to diffuse the situation. If an older adult becomes agitated, resistive or argumentative, it is usually best to stay calm and agreeable, as if you are going along with their desires. Validating their current feelings, and incorporating why a car ride is necessary, is much more effective in leading to cooperation than disagreeing, re-orienting or arguing. ask the older adult why he does not want to get in.In an older adult that frequently gets agitated during a trip, it is a good idea to:
suggest they use the bathroom before each trip
Seat the older adult in the rear passenger-side seat so that the steering wheel is out of reach, and he is not directly behind you. This way you can avoid being startled from behind when you are driving.
f your car has child safety locks, it’s always a good idea to have them on – allowing the rear door to be opened only from the outside. This will ensure that the door cannot be opened by the older adult while the car is moving.
Using a seat belt buckle cover can discourage unbuckling the seat belt during your ride.
If agitation persists during the ride, try playing music, or offering a book, magazine or photo album of family pictures. It’s also a good idea to have snacks and water available.
Communication is essential in transportation and other every day caregiving.
Be able to communicate with elderly adults like a pro with CareAcademy’s online caregiver course.
Madhuri ReddyHow to Help Elderly Adults with Transportation Challenges
When lifting, moving, and assisting elderly adults, you need to use good and proper “body mechanics” to reduce the likelihood of injury to yourself or the other person. Follow these tips to make sure you are safely and correctly moving transferring people.
Proper Body Mechanics When Moving Elderly Adults
Stand with your hold head up, shoulders back, chest high, and back straight.Place your feet hip-width apart.Shift so one foot is in front of the other.With your knees bent, lift using leg muscles rather than pulling with your arms.Do not turn from the waist.
Do not reach out when lifting.
Allow the person you are assisting to do as much of the moving as possible
Proper Moves to Turn or Position Reclining Elderly Adults
When moving a person reclining in bed, be aware of your competencies. Communicate with the adult as much as possible as you move around the room and position yourself and the person.
First, always wash your hands.
Provide as much privacy as possible.
Remove pillows from under the older adult’s head
Have the older adult bend both legs and put feet on the bed. Ask the person to push down with his/her hands and feet, to help move toward the top of the bed on a count of three.
Allow the older adult to do all or most of the work. Pulling the person with your upper body is likely to cause injury to yourself or the elderly adults.
Ensure that the older adult has enough room to roll. If needed, have the person bend both legs and put feet on bed to allow them to assist with scooting over.Ask the older adult to help perform the roll by reaching in the direction of the roll. If the older adult’s legs are bent, it will make the roll easier.Put one hand under the older adult’s shoulder. Put the other hand on the older adult’s hip, then gently roll the older adult toward the other side of the bed.Make sure the older adult is comfortable.
How to Safely Transfer an Older Adult from Bed to Wheelchair
When lifting a person from a bed, be aware of your abilities and limits. Communicate clearly with the person as much as possible as you position yourself and them. First,wash your hands thoroughly. Always make provisions for privacy.
Bring the wheelchair close to the bed, positioned so that stronger side of the older adult is closer to the chair you’re moving to.A cushion is best for comfort for most elderly adults when sitting in a wheelchair.
Fold the wheelchair’s footrests out of the way.
Use proper body mechanics while assisting the older adult to move.
A gait belt or pants belt will give you the most control when you’re assisting an older adult to stand. Pulling on someone’s arms during a transfer may cause injury to the adult’s joints or bones.
Ask the elderly adult to push up from the surface they are standing from on the count of three ensure the older adult uses their gait device as part of the transfer
Use of Assistive Technology and Specific Adaptive Equipment like Mechanical Lifts
Make sure to have a therapist or equipment company demonstrate the specific lift to you first, so that you will understand the safety steps involved.Position the wheelchair so that there is room to turn and move the lift.Ensure that the wheelchair’s brakes are locked.
Always look for obstacles or objects which could cause injury if elderly adults bump into themExplain what you are going to do, so that the person knows what to expect.Move slowly while turning an adult in a lift, to minimize risk for injury and to allow time to spot potential hazards.
How to Assist Elderly Adults with Walking
Ensure that supportive footwear is in place. Discourage slippers or sandals which are not strapped around the heels.Always utilize a gait device, if recommended by a doctor or therapist.Position yourself alongside the person’s weaker side.Use a gait or pants belt if the older adult is not fully steady.Make sure to have the elderly adult turn fully and back up before attempting to sit.Encourage the adult to reach back with one or both arms before sitting.
Making sure that elderly adults are as mobile as possible is a huge part of being a great caregiver. It’s important to keep everyone safe during any process of moving an adult from one position or location to another. Always remember that safety comes first.
CareAcademy offers online classes to help professionals and family
learn to prepare for all aspects of personal care for elderly adults.
Madhuri ReddyHow to Safely Lift and Transfer Elderly Adults
The lack of access to usable transportation options is a major reason why many older adults cannot live in their own communities or travel with dignity and independence. There are innovations in technology and transportation that are helping elderly adults with car travel. For caregivers, there are many potential difficulties with assisting an older adult with transportation, such as managing physical disabilities, dealing with a wheelchair or other device, and cognitive issues such as agitation. These are things that can be learned to manage if you have the right skills and knowledge and are prepared.
Professional caregivers of older adults should always promote a safe and positive experience for both the passenger and driver or companion.
Here are our suggestions for caregivers who are helping elderly adults with car travel.
Consider Transportation Options for Older Adults
If the older adult is no longer able to drive, the options include:
Family, friends and caregivers driving the older adult. This is of course the most convenient option for the older adult, and can be a valuable area where care professionals are helping elderly adults.
Public transportation. These are fixed routes but available at a low cost. They can be very challenging for older adults, because they may not be wheelchair accessible, and there may be some distance to walk to the desired location from the transit stop.
Personal transportation. These are door to door transportation programs, oven available through state programs and non profits. There is usually a fee, but some offer deep discounts for seniors. These transportation options vary between communities. For more information about helping elderly adults with door-to-door ride share programs in your community, go onto eldercare.gov for more details.
Assisting an Older Adult With Getting Into or Out of a Vehicle
Whenever you are helping an older adult into the car, transferring them from a wheelchair to a car, or assisting with a mobility device such as a wheelchair or walker, it is important to use proper body mechanics.
Basics of Helping a Senior In/Out of a Car:
Check the surrounding area for possible slip or trip risks
Wear appropriate non-slip footwear, which are safer for both you and the older adult
Stand with feet about shoulder width apart.
Keep your head and body as upright as possible.
Lower your hips to the height of the older adult by bending your knees and hips rather than your back.
Carry weight as close to your center of gravity as possible.
Get close to the older adult. Bear weight on your forearms rather than your hands.
Lift with your legs, not just your back.
When lifting, do not rotate your spine. Shift the position of your feet to turn (pivot).
Push or pull an object instead of lifting whenever you can.
Know your limits
Basics of Wheelchair Transfers.
When transferring, positioning, and helping elderly adults get from a wheelchair to a car:
Have the older adult you are helping wear a gait belt during transfers, if one is available. A gait belt is a safety device used for moving a person from one place to another. The belt may be used to help hold up a person while she walks and decreases the chance of injury of a helper hurting her back while transferring a passenger.
Open the car door and move the car seat back to make more room
Stand with your back to the inside of the car door and pull the wheelchair toward you between the car door and seat.
Talk the older adult through the transfer process step by step, so that he or she can assist if possible.
Hold on to the gait belt and help them to a standing position.
Use your legs to pull up for strength.
Have the older adult lean forward and push themselves up from the arms of the wheelchair Discourage them from pulling on the car door to stand because it is not stable.
Carefully pivot yourself and the older adult so that his or her backside is toward the inside of the car.
Help them sit on the seat with their legs still out of the car. Be careful that their head clears the door frame while they are sitting down.
Help them move their legs into the car once they are sitting and have been given a moment to gain their balance. Use a swivel cushion to swing the legs while in a sitting position on the car seat. If you don’t have a swivel cushion, place a towel on a heavy duty plastic bag on your cloth seat or directly on your leather seat. Then, help the older adult sit on the towel-covered seat. Next, go to the other side of the car and pull the towel toward you. The plastic bag makes it easier to slide the person further into the car. Finally, pivot his or her legs into the footwell of the car.
Assist with the seat belt, and close the door before going to your own seat.
Helping elderly adults with mobility and transportation is important. Car travel is a part of daily life for most people, including older adults. As a professional caregiver, you can be prepared for any situation.
Find out more about CareAcademy’s online courses for eldercare professionals.