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Transportation tips for caregivers

While we do offer a great transportation alternative for folks who no longer drive, or prefer not to, sometimes we cannot meet all the needs of our people.

The following is an article by Jamie Page Deaton from AARP, providing some great tips for caregivers regarding transportation.

Best car features for caregivers

When you’re a chauffeur for older adults, children or people with certain disabilities, what you drive matters.

Caring for someone else can mean a lot of stress — and a lot of time in the car. Driving to doctors’ appointments, tests, the pharmacy and even just trips around town can take on another level of complexity when you’re responsible for someone else’s needs.

The right car can be helpful to both you and the people you’re caring for. But if you have a car that supports your caregiving efforts, life will be that much easier. Here’s what caregivers need to look for when shopping for a car.

Access for people

If you or someone you’re caring for has limited mobility, ease of entry and exit is a big deal in a car. Life will be easier for people caring for children if little ones can get into the car by themselves or, at the very least, if you don’t have to contort yourself to buckle them into car seats.

Avoid low-slung sports cars and mile-high trucks and SUVs. Instead, minivans and crossovers offer good ease of access.

Minivans, such as the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, don’t require a huge step up to get into the vehicle, and their seats are at hip level for many adults, which means they’re easy to lower yourself into and get out of. Most minivans also offer doors that can be opened and closed remotely.

Crossovers ride slightly higher than cars do, but not as high as off-road SUVs, so getting in is easy. Look for doors that can swing wide and provide plenty of interior room for everyone to get situated. (The Toyota Venza, Jeep Patriot and Hyundai Tucson all have easy-access height and doors.)

Access for stuff

Caring for someone else often means traveling with a lot of stuff. Make things easy on yourself by getting a car that can handle extra cargo and makes loading and unloading easy. Most crossovers and minivans offer remote-opening rear hatches. For example, on the GMC Terrain, you can hit a button on the key fob and the cargo area will open. That’s a big help if you’re fumbling with children and bags in a busy parking lot.

Also consider how high the cargo load floor is, particularly if the person you’re caring for has heavy equipment that needs to be transported. On some crossovers, you have to lift very high (above your hips or waist) to get items into the cargo area. If you’re dealing with a heavy wheelchair, that will take a toll on your back. Before buying a car, take the gear you usually carry with you to the dealership and see how easy it is to load and unload.

Desirable technology features

One way a car can make caregiving easier is by having the right interior technology. Depending on your needs, the technology can be as simple as a radio so you can play soothing music for an agitated passenger. Or the technology can be a communications service that will connect you to emergency workers if needed.

A navigation system can be a big help to any caregiver, particularly if you travel out of town a lot. Most navigation systems can quickly find and direct you to the nearest hospital or pharmacy; some can even use the phone book to find doctors’ offices.

The navigation system on many Ford, Honda and Hyundai models can find medical care easily. (They can also locate restaurants and movie theaters, for when you need a break!) Since navigation systems on new cars can be expensive, you might try a portable unit, which can be purchased at an electronics store. Portable GPS devices usually cost less and do many of the same things as installed models.

A caregiving nation

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 21 percent of the adult population is caring for another adult. That’s 44 million Americans in caregiver roles, without counting adults who are caring for children.

And according to a 2011 report by AARP, caregivers, are on the road — a lot. They provide 1.4 billion trips per year for older adults who no longer drive.

You might also consider in-car telematics, which are systems that monitor the car’s condition and position. A touch of a button and you’re connected with paramedics. These systems, which are available on General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz vehicles, also feature automatic crash response technology that detects a crash and sends help, even if you’re incapacitated.

Finally, don’t forget about having some fun, too. A rear-seat DVD system can keep both children and adults happy.

Fuel friendliness

Taking care of someone else can take a healthy chunk out of your budget. Make sure your car’s appetite for fuel doesn’t do the same thing. Not only are crossovers easy to get in and out of, but they also tend to have better fuel economy than SUVs. The Jeep Patriot, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Hyundai Tucson have great fuel economy for crossovers. The Toyota Sienna gets 19/24 mpg city/highway, which is the best fuel economy among minivans.

Special features, just for you

Car makers are making more products that make sense for an aging population, but in some cases, the car you buy off the lot won’t be able to handle everything you need it to. If that’s the case, you’ll need to consider how a vehicle can be customized to your needs.

For instance, a ramp is going to be easier to install on some types of cars than others. Resources including the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association help you find the right car for the modifications you want — and a reputable dealer to install the features that fit your needs.

Special events at The Den

• “Carrier” (episodes 1 and 2), Monday April 2 at 1 p.m. Filmed during a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of ground troops, this in-depth documentary takes an insider’s tour of the?U.S.S. Nimitz, one of America’s most storied aircraft carriers. Strong language.

Episodes 3 and 4, Monday, April 9 at 1 p.m.

Episodes 5 and 6. Monday, April 16 at 1 p.m.

Episodes 7 and 8, Monday, April 23 at 1 p.m.

Episodes 9 and 10, Monday, April 30 at 1 p.m.

• Spring Hat Day. Wednesday, April 4. Wear your best or craziest and celebrate spring!

?Library

Come on in to The Den and check out our library. We have quite the collection of books, including some large print, as well as books on tape/CD, videos, DVDs and audio tapes for you to borrow.

At your service

Not driving anymore? Car in the shop? Get to where you need to go; door to door bus service available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to seniors age 60-plus. Suggested donation is $2 per day. Come hang out with us and enjoy our company. Call for details, 264-2167.

Delivered to your door

Are you homebound, recovering from surgery or an illness? Let us do the cooking. Enjoy Senior Center meals delivered to your door. Our hot meal home-delivery program is available to those living closer to town four days per week, with frozen meals for Thursdays and weekends. For those living further out of town, you may be eligible for the frozen meal program. Meals are available to people age 60+ for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. Give us a call at 264-2167 for further information. Donations are greatly appreciated.?

Weekly activities at The Den

Friday, March 30 —?10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; 12:30 p.m. Gym walk.

Monday, April 2 — 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. Canasta; 1 p.m. “Carrier.”

Tuesday, April 3 — 12:30 p.m. Gym Walk; 1 p.m. Meditation for Healing.

Wednesday, April 4 — Spring Hat Day.

Thursday, April 5 — Closed for administrative day.

Friday, April 6 — 10 a.m. Stitchin’ in the Kitchen; closed following lunch.

This week’s menu

Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, guests $6, kids 12 and under $3. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act via the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other donations and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $11.51. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, March 30 — Birthday meal: Roast beef with gravy, tossed salad, whole baby carrots, dilled red potatoes, winter fruit salad, chocolate cupcake with frosting.

Monday, April 2 — Oven-fried chicken, baked potato, spinach-mandarin salad, cornbread, peaches.

Tuesday, April 3 — Meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, tossed salad, gelatin with fruit cocktail, wheat roll.

Wednesday, April 4 — Roast pork with gravy, baked apple, mashed potatoes, California vegetable blend, wheat roll, raisin-nut cup, orange wedge.

Thursday, April 5 — Closed for administrative day.

Friday, April 6 — Crunchy baked fish, whipped sweet potatoes, creamy coleslaw, mixed vegetables, whole wheat roll, banana.

Arboles meal program

Lunches are served in Arboles on the first and third Thursdays of each month, weather permitting, in the basement of the Catholic Church. Reservations are required the Monday preceding. The suggested donation is $3 for age 60-plus. Call 264-2167 for more information or to make a reservation.

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