How to Make Errands and Appointments Easier for the Elderly

No matter what your age, running errands and making appointments can be a hassle.

When you are elderly, however, what once might have been a relatively minor aggravation or inconvenience can quickly grow into a nearly insurmountable obstacle. This is especially true for seniors who may have difficulties with memory or who may no longer be able to drive.

And yet the ability to run errands and keep appointments is an inevitable requirement of daily life. The good news, though, is that there are things you can do to help make these necessary chores easier for the seniors in your life.

Why it Matters

When you are caring for a senior loved one, whether they’re living with you or still residing in their own homes, there are many things to think about, from ensuring their safety while at home to making sure they’re eating well and taking their medication.

And when you combine caregiving with the other daily obligations you need to meet, planning for how you might make your seniors’ errands easier can place fairly low on the priorities list. But the reality is that, without a plan, important needs may go unmet, and that can take a profound toll on your senior’s mental and physical wellbeing.

For example, if your loved one has mobility issues, they may delay necessary dental appointments, particularly if driving to the clinic or even accessing the dental chair is a challenge. Similarly, seniors who have memory or cognitive challenges may not remember to keep up with their oral care.

Nevertheless, such care is essential not only for ensuring good oral health, but also for protecting against conditions that can be related to oral disease, including an increased risk of heart disease, infections, and dementias.

To ease some of the burden of remembering these appointments, and to incentivize seniors who may be reluctant to keep up with their oral care, it’s a good idea to go ahead and schedule your senior for their oral checkups and dental cleaning. And if it’s found that your loved one is developing deep pockets between their teeth, indicating nascent periodontal disease, you can move forward in scheduling a deep dental cleaning.

Helping your loved one with the scheduling of essential medical and dental appointments can be particularly challenging in the face of the ongoing, and worsening, shortage of healthcare providers worldwide. Because of this, your loved one may need to look into alternative forms of medical care, such as turning to a family nurse practitioner (FNP), who will generally be able to provide many of the same services as a general practitioner or primary care physician. If your senior has cognitive challenges, though, they may need your assistance in finding and booking an appointment with a qualified FNP.

Managing the Logistics

Keeping track of and scheduling your loved one’s appointments will only be a first step in helping make their errands and appointments easier. You will also want to help your loved one manage the logistics of the errand.

If your senior lives on their own, for example, you might help them with remembering appointments by creating a schedule that can be posted in an accessible area of the home, such as on the refrigerator. And, as an added layer of support, you might schedule automatic reminders to be sent to their email and/or smartphone. An array of apps can be downloaded at low or no cost to do precisely this.

In addition to making the appointments and arranging for reminders, you can also make these tasks easier for your seniors by ensuring they have both reliable transportation to the appointment, as well as assistance in getting ready for it. This is especially important if your senior has difficulty with memory, mobility, or driving.

Reputable caregivers can be hired to help your seniors manage these errands and appointments. For instance, these caregivers can help your senior bathe and dress for a doctor’s appointment, as well as drive them to it. For other errands, such as grocery shopping, prescription refills, or even pet care, a hired caregiver can often take care of these tasks for your senior. This can be a particularly important option in circumstances where your loved one may not feel well enough to leave the house themselves.

The Takeaway

Errands and appointments are a part of life, but for the elderly, they can be formidably challenging, so much so, in fact, that this can lead seniors to miss the vital care and services they need. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make these daily chores easier for your senior. This includes scheduling necessary medical and dental appointments and creating timely appointment reminders. You can also help manage the logistics of the errand, including arranging for transportation and ensuring that your senior has the assistance they need to prepare for the appointment. Hired caregivers can even take care of some errands, such as food shopping, when your senior cannot or prefers not to leave home.

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