Use these safe driving tips to plan a successful trip
Sometimes we forget the importance of a simple car ride. When you provide transportation assistance, you’re making a difference in someone’s life. This is especially true for seniors and older adults. If you’re seeking advice about how to drive when a senior is on board, you’ve come to the right place.
Helping someone get to a necessary appointment will ensure they get the support they need and aren't missing checkups, tests and screenings. When you work as a Papa Pal companion caregiver and provide car rides, you're doing so much more.
How to drive when a senior is on board
Why might seniors and older adults need help with car rides?
Keep in mind that there are many reasons that anyone could need help with a car ride.
Firstly, they may not have access to a working vehicle. Secondly, they could have a medical condition that prevents them from driving, such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. Thirdly, they may not feel comfortable driving alone, in heavy traffic, or at night. Or, they could be experiencing something temporary like an injury or surgery.
Now, let's look into some important information on how to drive when a senior is on board.
There are many things that you can take care of before you head out that will make everything go much smoother. This preparation will also help your rider feel confident and safe in your care. Notably, this advice applies to any car trip, not only when you’re driving with a senior or older adult on board.
Preparation is an important step in your travels because it will ensure that neither you nor your passenger feel stressed.
Use this checklist for pre-trip planning
- Get gas before you pick up your rider
- Ensure your car is is registered and no has outstanding tickets
- Make sure your car is in clean and safe working condition
- Check to see if you have space for any medical equipment needed
- Map out directions beforehand, or make sure you already have the address in your phone map
- Take note of weather conditions and/or construction that could create delays
- Locate where the drop-off area is at your destination. If there is no designated drop-off area, locate a safe spot as close to the building as possible.
- Make note of parking lot and sidewalk conditions like snow and ice, as well as anything that might create a fall hazard
Use these tips for a stress-free and safe drive
- Arrive a few minutes early at your pick-up address
- Communicate clearly when speaking with your passenger
- Ensure you and your passenger are buckled in securely
Helpful Skills for Driving Seniors and People with Disabilities
While there aren't any required certificates or training to be a Papa Pal driver, (apart from a valid driver's license), there are many things you can do to learn caregiver skills and knowhow. These extra steps will make you feel more confident in everyday life as well.
First Aid and Safety Training
- Take a basic CPR/First Aid course, often offered free at city facilities or online
- Browse home safety training for seniors, a free resource with information about mobility and accessibility
- Look into the American Caregiver Association, which has trainings that are free or affordable
- Search online for a free “Taking Care of Seniors” course
Mobility and Accessibility
For many older adults and people with disabilities, getting into or out of a vehicle can be challenging. Here are ways to learn more about offering support:
- Familiarize yourself with the basics of moving a wheelchair, its basic construction, and helping someone in and out. The YouTube channel Wheelchair Skills Programs has information on wheelchair safety and many “how to” instructional videos.
- Research how to assist someone with mobility, vision or other conditions when walking in parking lots and navigating sidewalks
Make Sure You're Following the Rules of the Road
As a licensed driver, you already know the laws put into place to help everyone make it safely to their destination. Let’s go over a few important reminders to make sure you have a safe trip.
- Buckle up: this is a must. It can save a life!
- Adjust your mirrors to ensure you see your blind spots
- Be aware of the speed limit and stay under it
- Use your signals
- Stay in lane farthest to the right and steer clear of “the fast lane”
- Minimize your distractions: no phone calls or texting, and only hands-free use if necessary for directions
Help Keep Everyone Safe and Well
As a Papa Pal, there are many ways you can help your passenger feel safe, cared for, and happy. Beyond driving, consider these reminders:
- Invite your passenger to give you tips about the drive. They can probably offer you practical advice, like where to find the best parking spot.
- Make sure you treat your passengers with courtesy. While they're in need of a little help with driving, it doesn't mean they've never driven a vehicle and don’t understand how to get around town.
- Sometimes, it’s just nice to have someone to talk to. Be a good listener during your drive.
Realize that this isn't just a job. It's an opportunity to make an impact in someone’s life, as well as your own if you let it.
Lastly, here's a friendly reminder to wash your hands frequently. As we age, the immune system weakens, which causes our bodies to be more susceptible to illness. So, it's important to wash your hands frequently. Also, remember to keep your distance when not feeling well; just stay home!
Become a Papa Pal and provide helpful transportation assistance
As a Papa Pal, you can help seniors and older adults with driving needs and beyond. You will have opportunities to provide companionship and help. No two Papa Pal visits are the same. In addition to offering car rides, you might play a game or do a puzzle, go for a walk, help with some light housework or just be great company.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy and you want a flexible job, apply to become a Papa Pal today. It's a great opportunity to earn money while doing good.