Mobility-challenged elders often remain confined to their homes, except for periodic trips to doctors
Do we instinctively visit aging parents who are mobility-challenged….as opposed to taking them out? I’m guessing it’s easier to visit and bring goodies or grandchildren than to round up older people’s paraphernalia and navigate putting it–and helping them–into a car for a short outing.
On the other hand, early in the life cycle, we drag buggies, strollers, and additional paraphernalia– making certain efforts
for infants and toddlers that many of us neglect making for our parents in their later years.
We give these littles ones, pushed in their buggies and strollers, the stimulation of connecting to the outside world. They’re breathing fresh air, eyes following things of interest. On the other hand, don’t elders often look at the outside world through a window or the TV screen?
6 ideas for short outings that get aging parents out of the house
1. Fall foliage: Go for a short drive and enjoy the splendor when it’s beautiful in your area. Leaf-peeping and people watching from a car does it!
2. Halloween: Driving through neighborhoods showcases
not only pumpkins–but ghosts, witches, technological displays and some surprises. These rides can be repeated many times exploring holiday decorations and lights in different blocks and neighborhoods …repeated again during the Christmas season.
3. A movie, in a movie theater: perfect on a dark, cold, dreary day. Yes, Netflix etc. can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home; but that doesn’t offer the people-watching or the smell of freshly popped popcorn. (Check whether theaters have space allocated for wheelchairs.)
4. A ride to the mall: ideal for people-watching, especially on a bad-weather day. It’s dry and warm inside, with options for eating–a nutritious–or not so nutritious–meal or snack….and shopping.
5. A drive to a practical destination: for example the grocery store….an opportunity to make certain aging parents have needed supplies. Grocery shopping is a normal part of life and the heavy shopping cart provides stability and exercise for those who can walk. Some larger stores have mechanized transport “vehicles” for cruising the aisles. Looking at products and people-watching is part of the fun for aging parents.
6. Involving an aging parent in an act of daily living: (your ADL) that involves chauffering–picking up children/grandchildren from school or from an after-school activity. Spirited youngsters, getting into the car after activities, are uplifting (most of the time).
Getting out of the house. Connecting to the outside world. Stimulation. Some exercise. A change of scenery helps aging parents and those who are mobility challenged feel they are participants in life–not merely observers.
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Note: The physical effort expended to get in and out of a car–if done correctly–is probably good for aging parents. As always, when in doubt, check with your parent’s physician.
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.
Nice article! I would like to add another idea, a form of teaching someone to fish rather than giving them fish.
I have helped more than a thousand people re-power their wheelchairs when the batteries wear out, and I have learned a lot from these folks.
I suggest that instead of loading Mom or Pop into the car, check to see if your local transit has buses with lifts.
Mom or Pop may not have considered their transit system, after all riding the bus is not all that popular especially if you spent a life time driving.
So if you help them learn how to use the system, this can openup a better quality of life for them, with them regaining some freedom of movement.
By all means consider a church that has a bus equipped for Rascal Wheelchairs and such.
A great idea! I would guess it clearly works well in cities with a good transportation (bus) system–it would in NYC. Assuming people can get to the bus easily and after a few practices, I’m thinking of the new opportunities–out of the house– that become independently doable. Thanks.