If you drive a lot, you probably have developed a number of bad habits. I know I did, but I didn’t realize it until I began providing elderly care for my father.
When you think that you are an excellent driver, that everyone else on the road is always at fault, or that traffic lights and stop signs are inconveniences for you, then you would probably learn a number of valuable lessons through the process of providing elder care services to someone who needs it.
I can name four driving lessons I learned from elderly care right off the top of my head.
1. You don’t always need to arrive immediately. I used to be in a hurry whenever I was driving somewhere. I would even roll through stop signs and red lights. Not everything has to be done in such a hurry. With regard to elderly care, I found myself often rushing to get things done so that I could get home.
That doesn’t do anything for the patient. It may provide support, but I was missing out on some wonderful opportunities.
2. Stop at the red lights. As I mentioned, I didn’t always have a habit of stopping at red lights. Mind you, I wouldn’t run right through them. However, if the light was yellow and was going to turn red before I even reached the intersection, I usually went anyway, knowing that the car going in the direction wouldn’t get a jump on me before I could get through.
When providing elder care services, sometimes taking a moment to look around and make sure that everyone is okay is better than assuming you just have to get something done. For example, one day I was rushing to get dinner ready for the elderly patient. He was trying to tell me something, a story that meant something to him, but I wasn’t paying attention. I know it hurt him that I didn’t stop and take two minutes to listen. Lesson learned.
3. Expect the unexpected. Whenever you’re on the road, you need to expect the unexpected. The same holds true when you’re caring for an elderly individual. Just because things seem to be routine every day doesn’t mean that they are.
When you expect the unexpected, you’ll be more prepared for those inevitable sudden surprises.
4. Others rely on your attention. While driving on today’s roads, other drivers are relying on your attention to the road. That is why there are so many campaigns about distracted driving. When providing elderly care, the patient is relying on your full attention. If you are distracted by a personal issue, you’re texting a friend constantly, or you have a crisis at work that you are focused on, then you’re not going to be paying attention to the patient.
When you are providing elder care services, make that your primary focus. I did and it made all the difference in the world to not only the patient but myself as well. We just hope to raise attention for not only better elderly care but also National Traffic Awareness Month.