Have you ever hesitated to take your mom or dad along for a family activity because you were concerned about their health? If your parent needs oxygen or has difficulty walking, or has serious medical issues, you may be concerned that your planned activity may be too much for them.
The thoughts running through your head are probably similar to: “What if she forgets her medication?” “What will I do if he has a heart attack, or she has a seizure?” “What can I do to make sure he doesn’t become ill?” “Will Mom be able to make it up the steps?”
Of course, your parents will always tell you not to worry about them, but you do. Plan to ensure the outing is fun for your parent and the rest of the family.
How to Prepare for an Outing with Your Senior Parent
- Consult her doctor. Tell the doctor about your plans and ask for a list of your parent’s medications.
- Plan the location of the event with your parent in mind. For example, if you’re attending your daughter’s wedding reception, and you have a choice of a venue with stairs or without, avoid the stairs.
- Make sure she brings any medication she might need. This is where that list of medications from the doctor comes in handy. Go through the list with your parent before the event, and make sure the proper medication is packed and ready to go.
- Allow your parent to get comfortable with the location before the event begins. If your parent sometimes gets confused in large crowds, set up an area in a quiet corner where she can sit and bring along some familiar items for her to focus on.
- Arrange for a companion. Depending on your parent’s health, it may be wise to ensure that she is not left alone. Recruit family members to sit and talk with her and keep her company.
- Address special needs. If your parent requires a little assistance undressing when going to use the bathroom, or gets confused in strange places, make sure she won’t have to ask anyone for help. For example, if the buttons on your dad’s new trousers are difficult for him to open by himself, specify a go-to person who is aware and can be available if and when he needs help.
- Understand your parent’s limits. As people age—and especially if they’re in poor health—they don’t have the endurance they once had. Your mom or dad may need to take a nap or a break to put their feet up in a quiet room in the middle of the day.
- Watch for dehydration. If your parent is living in an assisted living or other senior living community, the timing of meals and snacks are designed to keep her hydrated. During a special event, she may forget to drink sufficient liquids.
- Plan for emergencies. Hopefully, your parent will have a wonderful time celebrating your family’s special event. But, just in case, have her medical information handy, including her doctor’s phone number, list of medications, and medical history. You can put all this in an app on your phone to make it even handier. iBlueButton stores health information and emergency contact information and is accessible via Medicare and other healthcare portals.
- Have fun. Don’t take on all the work yourself. This is a special occasion for you. Make sure other family members help out to make sure you, your parent, and the rest of the family enjoys the special occasion.