Getting to hit the road with your elderly loved one and enjoy outings together is one of the best parts of being a family caregiver. These excursions are memorable and exciting, and bring meaning to all of the efforts that you put forth for your parent as you are able to reconnect with your loved one and remember your parent-child relationship outside of your care receiver-caregiver relationship. Proper preparation, however, is essential to making sure that your aging loved one stays healthy, safe, and comfortable throughout the course of your adventures together. This includes bringing along a day bag packed with everything your senior might need throughout the day.
Important items to pack in your parent’s day bag for summertime outings include:
- Cooling devices. Seniors tend to be particularly vulnerable to the heat. They may not be able to detect the changes in temperature like younger people can, and may not realize just how hot it is. Because seniors also have lower water content in their bodies they are also more vulnerable to dehydration, which diminishes the body’s ability to properly regulate the temperature. This puts your aging parent at serious risk of suffering major health complications, including heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Help prevent these from happening by including cooling devices in your parent’s day bag. Instant cold packs are an ideal choice. These portable items are fully contained and only require you to squeeze them to break a chemical packet inside, and then shake them to activate the cooling. You can then wrap the pack in a towel or piece of cloth and rest it against the back of their neck to instantly cool the body.
- Water. Proper dehydration is crucial at any time of the year, but it becomes more of a challenge during the hot months when the heat and humidity draw fluids out of the body. Your parent must concentrate on replenishing this fluid in order for the body’s various systems, including the cooling system, to work properly. Invest in a good quality reusable water bottle and keep it full at all times. This eliminates the waste and pollution of plastic bottles and encourages your parent to drink throughout the day.
- Identification kit. If your aging loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and has wandering tendencies, the summer months can be particularly treacherous. If they get away from you and become lost, the heat, sun, and dehydration can cause devastating consequences rapidly. It is important to prepare them as well as yourself for this possibility. Pack an identification kit that should include a recent picture of them, personal information such as their full name, birthdate, and any identifying features, and contact information for various people within your care network. Protect your parent by having them wear a GPS device such as a bracelet or shoes that allow them to be tracked in the event that they get lost and you need to be able to get to them quickly.