Americans are starting to make travel plans again. The elderly population, however, has had more restrictions placed on them due to their high-risk status, and are most certainly feeling the stressors of being homebound.
Planning makes all the difference
If you are thinking about scheduling a trip with your aging parent or loved one, perhaps to a favorite beach resort, or even a city abroad, proper planning and research can help make your trip safe and enjoyable – and choosing the right location is key to your enjoyability factor. Think about things like weather conditions (too hot? too cold?) as well as the size and types of crowds you may encounter (avoiding college spring breakers is highly advisable!). No less important, be sure that no matter the vacation destination, medical care is readily available and easily accessible if needed.
10 Tips for Traveling with Seniors
1. Choose your vacation timing wisely
Be mindful and intentional about the amount of time you want to be away. While it might seem ideal initially, taking a two-week trip with your aging loved one may be too long. It may depend on the type of vacation you want—are you touring and doing a lot of walking or planning a more sedentary excursion?
2. Check all plans with your parents’ medical team
Discuss travel plans with their doctor to be sure the trip is possible. Is it safe for them to fly? Are they going somewhere that requires some type of immunization or vaccine? What medications are needed? What happens if there is an uncontrollable delay in the return home? Bringing extra medication is essential in this situation.
3. Have daily activities planned
Once the destination has been selected, have a good idea of where you want to go and activities you want to do. Your elderly companions want to have just as much fun as you, so when planning your trip, be sure to include some fun activities where they can participate.
4. Be mindful of over-scheduling
Don’t feel compelled to fill every second with a planned activity and never underestimate the need for down time. When traveling with an older person, take time for good stretches to stay flexible or just simply rest—this can help prevent exhaustion and avoid potential injury.
5. Conduct periodic health checks on Mom or Dad
Be aware of any physical conditions-if they are on high blood pressure medication, keep watch for any signs of increased blood pressure. If mom or dad have recently recovered from a physical injury or surgery and need to continue their exercises and rehab while on the road, be sure to take time for them to do this.
6. Make time for self-care
It’s OK to enjoy some alone time. You may have an extremely fit elder but having time for yourself will be even more important in keeping your patience while recharging your battery—let someone else in the group watch over mom or dad while you take that much needed rest or do an activity that you want to do!
7. Seek out available accommodations
Most of the time airlines, resorts, and hotels are all too happy to oblige when it comes to special requests. This can include needing a wheelchair in the airport or additional time to board the plane, as well as being given a hotel room that is ADA certified. Inquire about room location in the hotel and request special accommodations, such as having an adjoining room, or a room close to both the elevator and dining room. Most bed and breakfast establishments have steps so you may want to request the first floor. Also, check handicapped accessibility at the property
8. Plan extra time before and between activities
It may take mom or dad a little extra time to get ready in the morning as you prepare for your day ahead. That's okay... just allow for some extra time. Instead of planning for an 8:30am breakfast, consider pushing it to 9am, giving them a little more time, reducing not just your stress levels, but theirs as well.
9. Consider purchasing traveler’s insurance
Purchasing travel insurance can be very important when traveling with an older person. Unfortunately, emergencies can occur, keeping them from making this long-awaited trip. Better to have travel insurance to avoid the unnecessary stress of losing your money.
Note: If you are leaving the country for a trip, this is especially important as MEDICARE does not cover anyone while traveling abroad.
10. Consider vacation care for your parent
When planning a trip, having vacation care for the elderly parent may be well worth your while. Perhaps planning to include respite care by a home health aide from BAYADA Personal Care will enable you to really unwind, relax and enjoy your vacation. If your parent needs some assistance with a wheelchair, a shower, toileting or with their everyday living activities, an aide can make it easier for you and them.
Strategic and thoughtful planning can make your trip easier and more manageable. Now go and create those wonderful memories of a lifetime with your family! If you decide you need to have an aide from the start of the trip or want to hire an aide upon arrival at your destination, BAYADA services are available in approximately half the states in the US.
Bon voyage and safe travels!