Family Caregiver – Part 6 – Traveling With Elderly Disabled Wheelchair Patient

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1. Traveling with a wheelchair patient takes advance planning. Even short trips require having on hand things that may be needed on short notice,
o his wheelchair or scooter, or both
o urinal, or catheter
o car seat protector in case of wetting accidents
o towels, bib or clothing protector
o tissues, hand wipes
o medications and water or other drinks
o snacks
o eating utensils
o a change of clothes for wetting accidents that will eventually occur
o and whatever else will make the trip doable.

Keep a travel bag packed with items you'll need to get though a day and keep it by the door to grab it on your way out. Always be prepared for trips that last longer than expected.

2. Making pit stops when traveling is most times inconvenient. No place to pull off the road, no privacy, raining cats and dogs. My husband uses an external catheter (sometimes called a Texas Catheter) and disposable bag to make that part of the trip easier. It took using the catheter a few times for him to feel comfortable, building his confidence that it is not visible and won't leak. Catheters can be purchased at some medical supply stores. They come in various sizes and styles dependent on patient needs. Check the internet. Some medical plans may cover the cost, but if not, they are not too expensive for occasional use.

3. Keeping a urinal in the car is a necessity. I found one I like at a camping and outdoor supply store. It is shaped differently than urinals found at a medical supply store and I find its different shape makes it easier to use. It is also available with an adapter for women. (I haven't tried it yet) Purchase a couple to have handy around the house – bedroom, bathroom, basement, auto. They are washable and reusable forever.

4. A waterproof seat pad on the car seat under the patient can save a lot of additional work if wetting accidents occur and it may help slide him onto the seat as well. In hot summer months I place a seat pad behind his back to protect him from the vinyl seat material that makes him sweat. In winter I don't use the pad behind his back.

5. A bib can be embarrassing to the patient when eating out. I carry a black hand towel to use in addition to the napkins supplied at the restaurant. Black or dark colors will not be as obvious to other diners as to its purpose. I keep pinch type clothes pins and safety pins in my purse to use to hold the towel or napkins in place.

6. Lodging – When booking a handi-capped accessible room make sure you ask just how accessible it is. I've booked a so called room to find the only thing HP accessible was one grab bar in the bathroom, and the wheelchair could not get 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, easier way to help him through the day. If he's happy then we're both happy.