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For many older adults and their caregivers, one of the most daunting challenges they face is finding transportation to get to medical appointments, shopping trips and other travels.
While resources still don’t meet all of these growing needs, there are ongoing efforts to address the issue and improve existing transportation options.
The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) has recently released a “Dementia, Caregiving and Transportation” guide that provides tips for caregivers, information on types of transportation available, dementia-friendly tips for transit drivers, items to include in a travel kit, and a list of resources.
Among the tips for caregivers are recognizing how much assistance your loved one may need to get in and out of the vehicle, and whether they need help once they’ve reached their destination. That is especially important on medical appointments. Older adults, especially those diagnosed with Alzheimer`s or another dementia, may need help explaining their symptoms, understanding the doctor’s instructions, or simply the calming presence of a familiar face.
If the caregiver cannot accompany their loved one on such appointments, there are some transportation resources that do provide someone to escort the older adult throughout the trip. One such resource here in MetroWest is the Patient Navigator program offered by JFS of MetroWest. The trained navigators consult with the consumer to review their concerns, medications and questions before the appointment, accompany them to doctors’ visits and medical procedures, help facilitate doctor/patient communication, review the doctor’s instructions and help schedule follow up visits after each medical appointment, and compile a written record of the doctor’s appointment to keep or share with family and caregivers.
Caregivers should also look into what local resources are available. Most area senior centers have some transportation options available, while there are also public transportation and private pay options available. Check out our transportation listings for options in MetroWest.
Another helpdul suggestion is to put together a travel kit for your loved one. A small bag with an ID tag can be filled with items such as your loved one’s name, address and telephone number, emergency contact information, the address and telephone number of their destination, medications that may be needed during the trip, cell phone, water and snacks, and a sweater or blanket for cold whether or a change of clothes if there are incontinence issues.
The NADTC guide also provides information for drivers and escorts, including tips for making their service dementia-friendly.