Avoid the Headaches of Traveling and Make it Much Easier on Your Senior Parents
Trips don’t have to be ruined or “slowed down” when you have the pleasure of your senior parent accompanying you. Learn what you must do before you leave, during your travels and during your trip to make traveling as smooth as possible.
Before You Travel
1. Talk to the doctor
Make a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications. Having a list of medications and medical problems will make it easier to get through customs if flying and get replacement meds if lost while traveling. Write down the:
- dosage & time to take drugs
- both trade and generic drug names
2. Request and Reserve Special Services
Request designated seats for disabled travelers. If you are flying, you can even ask for cost-free wheelchair service at every airport departing, connecting, and arriving location. This will make it much easier in the event of running late to get to the airport or a delayed flight that is causing a short gap between your next connecting flight!
Also, whatever method of travelling you are using, check for meal service alternatives due to dietary needs. This can be a headache when you find out during the trip that there are no options for your senior parent due to their health problems!
If you don’t confirm all of these requests at the time of the reservation, the transportation company has no obligation to make them available to you.
3. Plan What to do with Medication
Medication should be taken very seriously because of the amount of importance it is to the health of your importance as well as how difficult it can be to get extra medication in different areas. Here’s some easy tips that will save you from stressing:
- Keep them in the original bottles to make it easier at customs
- Put them in your parent’s carry on
- Pack extra just in case something happens on the trip
4. Understand that seniors are more sensitive to new areas
Going on an exotic trip is great when you are young and healthy. However, when you are older and don’t have a strong immune system, you become more susceptible to diseases in other countries.
Visit wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list for vaccine recommendations when travelling to specific parts of the country.
During Your Travels
5. Be early & allow extra time
Remember the part in Home Alone where they are sprinting to the airport gate? Add your senior parent into that mix and see if they make it on time to catch their flight.
Travel Tips from USAToday recommends getting to an airport two hours early for a domestic flight. If your senior parent needs particular accommodations or requires moving at a more leisurely manner, two hours might be at the late end of when you should arrive!
Travelling by bus or train is a bit easier but still follow this sound advice!
6. Dress Comfortably & Move Around
Long travel experiences can be extremely exhausting, especially when you’re in an outfit that is too tight or doesn’t breathe. Make sure your senior parent is going to be comfortable and get them up and about if there is an opportunity.
A brief walk and stretch through the cabin or at a pit stop can make it much easier to sit for the rest of the travel portion, not to mention make it much more likely they are to rest and relax.
7. Know How the Traveling Could Affect Your Senior Parent
This tip is related to your mindset. It’s easy to forget that seniors need more time and patience when getting around. When you don’t help plan for accommodations and expect them to keep up, it can be frustrating for everyone.
Be patient and be helpful. These two will go a long way to making your trip memorable and successful!
During Your Trip
8. Don’t Stuff Each Day
Just like kids can go on forever and drag their exhausted parents around, senior parents tucker out much quicker than they use to. Leaving some time throughout the day to relax and catch a breath will help your senior parent stay present rather than having to miss part of the fun.
9. Plan activities for everyone to be involved
It’s unfortunate, but many families bring their senior parent along on trips because they can’t find anyone to take care of the parent while they are gone. This usually involves having the parent follow along in the background or stay in the hotel.
Seniors can make the experience more enjoyable by having everyone in the family involved. Plan activities that aren’t too demanding or that would eliminate the chance of your senior parent from joining in the fun. If activities will be more intensive, find an accommodation such as using an electric wheelchair if there will be a lot of walking.
When You Get Home
10. Monitor for any signs of illness
Not all diseases and illnesses develop instantaneously. Make sure to let your parent’s doctors know that they went to the particular destination and if you should check for any symptoms.
If your senior parent has a home caregiver, let them know to pay close attention to anything abnormal. They can be the support your parent needs to get right back into the swing of things after a memorable trip with their treasured family.
Learn more tips and considerations about traveling with older adults