Driving and Meds Don’t Mix

According to CAMH, adults in Canada aged 65 and older consume 20 to 40 percent of all prescription meds and 25 percent of all over-the-counter meds. As we age, we’re also more likely to take more than one medication at a time. While medications help you manage your illnesses and symptoms, many cause side effects that impair your ability to drive.

Common Medications That Restrict Your Ability to Drive

Medications can cause a whole slew of side effects that can make it impossible for a person to drive safely, including:

  • drowsiness/sleepiness
  • unsteadiness
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • slowed movement and reaction
  • trouble focusing or concentrating
  • fainting

As we get older, many of these effects can be even more pronounced because ageing affects the rate of at which our bodies absorb drugs. If you take more than one type of medication, the possibility of drug interactions is higher and can result in enhanced effects of one or more of the drugs.

Medications known to impair driving include:

  • narcotic pain relievers
  • anxiety medications
  • some antidepressants
  • anti-epileptic drugs (anti-seizure drugs)
  • sleep aids
  • products containing codeine
  • antihistamines
  • cough and cold medicine
  • muscle relaxants
  • medicines used to treat nausea

Getting Around Safely

Driving and meds don’t mix, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your car and fuss with taxis or be at the mercy of public transit schedules. You can hire a caregiver to drive your car wherever you need to go.

By hiring an in-home caregiver to drive you, you not only get reliable transportation, but also have the added benefit of having help with errands such as shopping, someone to accompany you to appointments, and more.

A caregiver can help you or your ageing parent maintain independence, making it possible to go anywhere. This as well as other in-home care services, if needed.

To learn more about hiring a caregiver to drive you where you need to go or about any of our other in-home care services, reach us anytime at 1.855.483.CARE (2273).

Article sources

  • Medications and Driving. Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). https://www.caa.ca/seniors-2/medications-driving/
  • Medication Use in Older Adults. CAMH. https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/guides-and-publications/medication-use-in-older-adults

A Day in the Life of A PSW

PSWs have always been heroes in our books. They dedicate their lives to caring for older adults, who are among the most vulnerable in our community.

Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis and even more so since the shortcomings in Canada’s long-term care facilities were brought to light, more and more people are finally appreciating these unsung heroes. Still, it’s important for us to provide a true picture of just how difficult this job is.

To do this, we would like to introduce you to Marie and take you through a day in her life as a PSW.

Marie’s day starts at 5:00 AM. This gives her less than an hour to get ready for work and kiss her sleeping children goodbye so she can catch the 6:00 AM bus to the subway in order to make it to her client’s home at 6:45  to begin her 12-hour shift at 7:00 AM.

Unlike corporate employees who stop at Starbucks for a latte, Marie can never be late, so waiting in line for coffee is out of the question. Her client is bedridden and not only relies on Marie’s help with bathing, feeding, her morning medication and breakfast, but also her company. For a few years now, Marie is often the only face that the client sees anymore.

Taking care of a person who is bedridden is physically demanding. As with other bedridden adults, this client is overweight, which makes it especially difficult to lift them.

Marie begins her shift by talking to the client and asking how her night was and listens intently as she begins gathering the supplies, she will need to get the client bathed.

She helps the client sit up in bed using pillows to prop her up, before helping her brush her teeth and hair, all while continuing to engage her.

Next she undresses her client to bathe her and has to lift and balance the client while she washes her and changes her incontinence pad and bedding. It’s difficult, but not doing these things properly can lead to bed sores and infection, so she takes her time and is thorough.

Once the client is dressed in a fresh gown; Marie props her up and turns on her favorite TV program before moving onto the next important task, which is feeding and walking the client’s beloved dog, Jo-Jo.

Jo-Jo takes his place next to his owner while Marie helps her eat breakfast.

Over the course of the day, Marie will prepare two more meals for her client…and Jo-Jo. She decides to take her own lunch in the room with her client. Normally Marie eats her lunch while writing out the grocery list or sorting through junk mail, but the client seems a little down and like she could use some cheering up.

Some more friendly conversation over a sandwich does the trick and her client is in much better spirits by time her quick lunch break is over.

Throughout the rest of the day, Marie does laundry, washes dishes, and vacuums and dusts the dog hair that settles throughout the house. She also picks up and puts away groceries, and takes care of her client’s toileting several more times.

Before heading home, Marie goes through the entire hygiene process again, ensuring that her client is clean, dry, and comfortable for the night, and gives the client her final dose of her medication.

By the time she takes Jo-Jo out for his final potty break, it’s already 7:15 PM and just past the end of her shift.

She pops into the client’s room one more time to make sure she has a glass of water and the remote control within reach, and anything else she needs for the night.

Marie finally heads home, tired but happy knowing that her client was feeling more joyful than at the start of her day.

By the time she walks in the door it’s already 9:00 PM and her children are already asleep. She ends her day the way she started it and sneaks into her children’s rooms for a quick goodnight kiss.

She will start this over again the next morning.

Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep

You’re not doomed to toss and turn every night. Consider simple tips for better sleep, from setting a sleep schedule to including physical activity in your daily routine.

Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night’s sleep — from work stress and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as illnesses. It’s no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.

While you might not be able to control the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple tips.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule

Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal.

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

If you don’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you’re tired. Repeat as needed.

  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.

  • Create a restful environment

Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.

Doing calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or using relaxation techniques, might promote better sleep.

  • Limit daytime naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day.

If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine

Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however.

Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.

  • Manage worries

Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

Stress management might help. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety.

  • Know when to contact your doctor

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.


Source: Mayo Clinic