For many people, having access to a car is a source of independence and freedom, especially in cities where public transportation is not easily accessible. As we get older, however, driving a car can be dangerous; failing eyesight and cataracts can make it challenging to see clearly at night, certain medications can slow reaction time, and some health conditions make it physically impossible to operate a vehicle.
Losing access to a car is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating for the elder or the family caregiver. Thanks to technological advancements over the past decade, ride sharing apps can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet, making it easy for seniors to request rides at their convenience. But what happens when your loved one requires transportation to a doctor’s appointment that you’re unable to attend? Or when they need to go grocery shopping and prefer to have a car readily available? Arranging for them to have care at home by a caregiver with a car solves several problems with one solution.
Care At Home: When Your Caregiver Has A Car
Like any new relationship or partnership, there are boundaries and ground rules that have to be determined to prevent breakdowns in communication. Maureen Tyra, Director of Careplanning for Tandem, has helped to put some of those ground rules in place for us. Here’s what you should know before hiring a caregiver with a car:
- Ask if there is a limited distance that the caregiver is allowed to drive. Some caregivers or caregiving agencies that provide senior care services have a limit to the radius in which a caregiver can drive a client. Tandem is not one of them. “If transportation is needed, we try to establish the distance from the client's house to wherever they need to go--like doctor's appointment, grocery store, hospital, etc.--beforehand, if possible,” says Maureen. “This helps us to better match clients with caregivers. We include whether or not transportation is a care service that’s needed and how far it would be to get to the necessary places, which ensures that caregivers who don’t mind being in the car or driving certain distances will end up matching with the client.”
- Decide whose car will be used in advance. When both a caregiver and a client have their own vehicle, it helps to figure out which car will be the one designated for client transportation before there’s a need to get behind the wheel. “We ask both clients and caregivers about which vehicle they would rather drive, or have driven if transportation is a requirement,” says Maureen. “But we do encourage both clients and caregivers to have this discussion without us as well, to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
- Have a conversation about mileage and gas. With gas prices constantly fluctuating, it can be hard for caregivers to gauge their added expenses when transportation is factored in for a client. Here in California, caregivers actually must be reimbursed for mileage if they are using their own car. If you need help coming up with a system to track mileage and reimbursement, Tandem is here to help.
Since getting down to brass tacks can sometimes be a cumbersome process, Tandem aims to take care of all of these details before matching clients with caregivers. “We try to be as thorough as possible in our registration process, and we allow both caregivers and care seekers to include notes about their comfort level regarding transportation,” says Maureen.
Senior Care Services: Companion Care and A Car
Many people think that hiring home help for the elderly is limited to those with chronic illness, limited mobility, or cognitive decline. The truth about in-home caregiving, however, is that it can be whatever you and your loved ones need it to be. It doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment; you can schedule as many hours as you see fit. Your loved one doesn’t have to be ill to benefit from a caregiver; you can hire someone for companion care to keep your loved one company and help tidy up the house.
With Tandem, you have access to all of the senior care services that your loved one needs, including transportation. No matter which type of qualified caregiver you choose to hire, if having a valid driver’s license and access to a car is a priority for you and your loved one, Tandem can find the perfect match for your care needs. Call us at 1-800-370-3377 to speak with one of our Senior Care Specialists about setting up care with a car for your loved one.