Family Caregiver – Part 6 – Traveling with an Elderly Disabled Patient in a Wheelchair
1. Traveling with a patient in a wheelchair requires advance planning. Even short trips require having things on hand that may be needed at short notice,
or your wheelchair or scooter, or both
or urinary, or catheter
or car seat protector in case of wet accidents
or towels, bib or clothing protector
or tissues, hand wipes
or medications and water or other beverages
or a change of clothes for wetting accidents that will eventually occur
or and anything else that makes the trip feasible.
Keep an overnight bag filled with items you’ll need to get you through a day and keep it by the door to grab on the go. Always be prepared for trips that take longer than expected.
2. Making pit stops when traveling is most of the time inconvenient. No place to turn off the road, no privacy, pouring rain. My husband uses an external catheter (sometimes called a Texas Catheter) and a disposable bag to make that part of the trip easier. He started using the catheter several times to get comfortable, increasing his confidence that he is not visible and will not leak. Catheters can be purchased at some medical supply stores. They come in various sizes and styles depending on the needs of the patient. Check the internet. Some health plans may cover the cost, but if not, they’re not too expensive for occasional use.
3. Keeping a urinal in the car is a must. I found one I like at a camping and outdoor supply store. It is shaped differently than urinals you find in a medical supply store and I think its different shape makes it easier to use. It is also available with a female adapter. (Haven’t tried it yet) Buy a pair to keep on hand around the house: bedroom, bathroom, basement, car. They are washable and reusable forever.
4. A waterproof seat pad on the car seat under the patient can save a lot of extra work if accidents happen from getting wet, and can also help slide the patient onto the seat. In the hot summer months, I put a seat pad behind his back to protect him from the vinyl material of the seat that makes him sweat. In winter I don’t use the pad behind my back.
5. A bib can be embarrassing for the patient when eating out. I bring a black hand towel to use in addition to the napkins provided at the restaurant. Black or dark colors will not be as obvious to other diners as they are to your purpose. I keep pinch-type clothes pins and safety pins in my bag to use to hold the towel or napkins in place.
6. Accommodations – When you book a handicap accessible room, be sure to ask how accessible it is. I booked a supposed room to find that the only thing accessible from HP was a grab bar in the bathroom, and the wheelchair couldn’t fit through the bathroom door!
Caring for my husband these 12 years has given me a genuine understanding and sympathy for other caregivers and their individual situations. I am always looking for a better and easier way to help you through the day. If he is happy, then we are both happy.