A Morning At The Mall: Taking your Elderly Parents Christmas Shopping
Written by Michele Bayno BSW, BA
I really savor this time of the year. My husband and I bundled up our boys Sunday morning and headed off to the shopping center to complete our last minute Christmas shopping. We arrived early enough to avoid the crowds. Once we arrived at the mall, Christmas music was playing, and holiday decor could be found everywhere.
Shopping with our young children can bring on many challenges. Xavier is eight years old, Liam is five, and Nathaniel is one. Between frequent bathroom breaks, stopping at the mall petting zoo, there was not much time left for shopping.
As we were walking around the shopping center, I made an observation. I noticed many adult children walking around with their elderly parents. A heart warming scenario I witnessed that Sunday was an elderly woman with her grown daughter. The grown daughter was pushing her mother around slowly in her wheel chair. I heard them discussing how pretty the holiday decor was. The elderly woman had a smile on her face that could brighten anyone’s day. The grown daughter looked genuinely pleased to be spending this quality time with her mother.
As I put my social worker hat on that morning, I concluded that this grown daughter most likely had many challenges bringing her mother to the mall that morning. I am certain there was much organization involved.
If you are thinking about an outing with an elderly parent, you may want to consider the following:
1. Plan the outing a head of time. You will want to make sure that your elderly parent is feeling up to the outing. Evaluate if this outing is appropriate for an older adult.
2. Once you have selected an outing, call the desired location for information. Questions you may want to ask: (a) do they have wheel chairs?, (b) is there wheel chair ramps?, (c) are the bathrooms wheel chair friendly?, (d) can food and beverages be purchased at this location?, (e) are you allowed to bring your own wheel chair?
3. Evaluate how many healthy adults are required for this outing. Will this elderly person require assistance transferring in and out of the vehicle? Will they also require assistance transferring in and out of the wheel chair? Evaluate how many people are required for safely transferring the person.
4. Does the elderly person use medical equipment? It is important that you know how to assist this person with the medical equipment if required. Always call the elderly person’s nurse of doctor if you have any questions, or doubts.
5. Is the elderly person diabetic? It is important that the person eat on time, and test their blood sugars if required. Always bring healthy snacks on outings.
6. It is important that the elderly person wear loose, fitting, comfortable clothing.
7. Are you comfortable assisting this person in the bathroom if required? Do diapers need to be changed? Can this elderly person manage their personal hygiene on their own? Find out a head of time what type of help the elderly person requires in the washroom. This will avoid uncomfortable situations.
As can be seen, there are many issues to consider before organizing an event with an elderly person. With proper planning, the outing will be rewarding for all involved. Most important, your elderly parent will appreciate the time you spent with them.
This is not to be used as medical advice. These are only general guide lines. Before taking an elderly person out, always check with their nurse or doctor for specific instructions.