San Diego is packed with fun places to bring your aging loved one. Senior-friendly options include Balboa Park, Coronado Beach, the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, Cabrillo National Monument, and the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Before taking your parent outdoors, you may need to take some safety precautions. The El Cajon in-home care specialists at Coast Care Partners discuss a few ways to ensure senior safety during outings.
Air Quality & Weather
Prevent Exposure to Air Pollution
In January 2018, the San Diego Union-Tribune warned of high air pollution levels in San Diego County, especially in the towns of Warner Springs, Alpine, and Borrego Springs. When air quality is poor, it’s safer to stay indoors, particularly if your parent has respiratory issues.
Choose the Right Attire
Older adults typically have thin skin, which makes them susceptible to the cold weather. Even if fall weather feels balmy to your loved one, make sure to bring a sweater. On winter days, have your parent dress in layers to accommodate changes in body temperature.
Prepare yourself for the winter rain by keeping an umbrella in your car at all times. During spring and summer, make sure your loved one wears loose apparel in light colors to deflect the sun’s heat.
Ensure Adequate Hydration
During hot weather, your loved one should avoid going outside due to the increased risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. When you do venture out, bring along bottled water and some fresh fruit to keep your parent hydrated.
If your loved one has dementia, he or she may not sense thirst, so offer periodic sips of water. Also, ask the doctor how much fluid your loved one should drink daily. When planning an outing, include restroom stops in your route.
Older adults need to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before heading out of the house. Choose a product with SPF 50 or more, as it protects against ultraviolet radiation.
Keep an Emergency Kit
With medical supplies on hand, you’ll be better prepared for possible accidents, injuries, or sudden illness. You can either buy a stocked kit or pack your own. The advantage of a homemade kit is the ability to customize it to your parent’s needs.
If you prefer the convenience of a readymade pack, make sure the container is durable and stocked with high-quality supplies. For a homemade kit, consider a waterproof container such as a plastic toolbox, bin, or tackle box. Another option is a small Pelican case with a watertight seal.
Buy Necessary Supplies
For outings, an emergency kit needn’t be all-inclusive. Essentials to include are hand sanitizer, soap, alcohol swabs, insect repellent, sunblock, antiseptic ointment, disposable gloves, bandages, gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, cotton balls, and cotton swabs.
Gather your loved one’s medications, along with antihistamine, hydrocortisone cream, aspirin, analgesics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Also, obtain a flashlight with extra batteries, an ice pack, towel, and plastic bags for waste disposal.
After assembling your supplies, enclose them in protective material such as Ziploc bags or Tupperware. Mint tins are handy for small items. If your parent wears eyeglasses, consider carrying an extra pair. Also, add a few healthy snacks to the list of supplies.
Prepare an Emergency List
To further safeguard your parent’s health, compile a list of emergency contacts, doctors, medications, diagnoses, copies of his or her insurance card, and a current photo. Should your loved one need medical care, this information can greatly aid emergency responders.
NOTE – If your loved one is allergic to insect bites, stings, or certain foods, bring an EpiPen as a precaution against anaphylaxis. This epinephrine injection can control serious allergic symptoms until you arrive at a hospital emergency room. During hot weather, don’t store the EpiPen in your car, as the epinephrine medication will degrade.
Plan Your Route Carefully
Before heading out, carefully plan your route. Avoid areas with broken pavement, congested walkways, busy intersections, poor lighting, construction hazards, and steep inclines. Make sure your parent wears comfortable shoes with arch support and nonskid soles.
Invest in Assistive Devices
If your loved one uses a walker, cane, or wheelchair, make sure they’re in good condition. For seniors who readily tire on their feet, consider a walker furnished with a seat. Another option is renting a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Offer Assistance with Walking
When going outdoors, make sure you and your loved one walk at the same pace. Being distracted could make your parent vulnerable to tripping and falling, especially when negotiating curbs. Keep a wide berth around crowds and noisy areas, which can be disorienting and stressful for older adults with dementia.
Buy a Mobile Phone for Your Loved One
Provide your loved one with a senior-friendly cellphone. Should you get separated, you’ll be able to locate each other. For a parent with dementia who doesn’t recall how to use a phone, keep a smartphone with you. Then, provide a knapsack containing another smartphone. Using the GPS system on your device, you’ll be able to pinpoint your parent’s location. Just make sure the bag material is lightweight and thin so it doesn’t block satellite signals. If you get separated inside a mall, your phone can use a Wi-Fi network for tracking. Alternatively, your loved one can wear a SIM card tracking device such as a pendant, wristband, watch, or badge.
If your parent needs help aging in place safely and comfortably, consider hiring a professional caregiver. When it comes to high-quality home care, El Cajon families trust Coast Care Partners. As the leading caregiver agency in San Diego, we can assist your senior loved one with a variety of daily tasks while ensuring his or her safety. In addition to respite and live-in care, we also offer specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s home care. Whether your parent needs help attending outdoor events or simply someone to socialize with, give us a call at 619-354-2544 today.