On The Road With Elderly Parents

Jul 21st, 2010 | By Jeannine Becker | Category: For Senior Women

We left early on a Friday morning for the Midwest.  My father was finally on the road, returning to his home state.  I’m quite sure that his agenda was to find a home they could live in and make that important move back to his roots where he wanted to die. 

We started making plans for this trip after my husband and I offered to take them ‘home’.  They wanted to go, but they wanted to drive, not fly.  So they offered their car for this trip.  Dad had new tires put on the car, got the oil changed and the car ready for the 1500+ miles.  Then a few days before our departure date, my sister told me that dad had informed them at lunch that day that it was his car and he would drive whenever he felt like driving.

Ohmeohmy!  My husband heard this and replied firmly (and loudly I might add), “I will not put my life or my wife’s life in the hands of my 94 year old father-in-law.”  We discussed our dilemma and decided that we needed to drive our own car.  Then we needed to find a good reason to make this last minute change.  We really are making every effort to help them feel they are not losing all control of their lives.  However, if the day does come that we need to make the statement, “Dad, you’re not driving,”  or whatever the statement needs to be, we will do it.  This time, gratefully, we had a good, ready reason to take our own vehicle.  We actually needed to take a large item with us and needed more trunk space.

They accepted the change, almost jumped into our back seat, smiled at each other, and held hands all the way ‘home’!  They were so anxious to get there that Dad didn’t even put his head back for a nap…at all. 

We were concerned about disorientation, which is something that happens easily when they are out of their ‘home’ environment, especially in a strange motel at night.  And mother told me that they were talking till nearly midnight that first night because dad couldn’t understand where they were and why they weren’t in their own beds.

The second full day slipped by smoothly and easily, just as the first had.  There was some conversation, and some laughter, some joking and no resting.  Dad was really quite alert and he connected with us all day.  By the time we stopped for dinner and one more motel night, I could tell that the trip was wearing on him. He looked tired, but for whatever reason, he would not, or could not rest during the day.  I certainly did!   Perhaps he felt responsible for being awake to ‘help the driver’. 

We finally arrived at our destination by the middle of the third day.  Their rental car was waiting for them.  Yep, they rented a car.  We got them settled in their comfortable motel suite and prepared to leave them.  At which point, Mom said to Dad, “we couldn’t have gotten here if they hadn’t driven us.”  At which point Dad said to all of us, “Oh I don’t know about that!  I could have driven all the way!”

Oh well “Whatever, Dad!”



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