Traveling with older adults can be a rich and fulfilling experience for the entire family. Yes, it involves added responsibilities and a few compromises, but the time you spend discovering new things and sharing experiences with your elders is something you and your children will cherish for a lifetime.
It does, however, require a certain amount of preparation and planning. Here are a few recommended tips:
In addition to the usual packing lists and numerous confirmation codes you’ll need to know, seniors have specific health and lifestyle needs that make their travel experiences not necessarily worse, but different for the whole family. So I’d like to share some more thoughts to help those of you who are currently planning your summer getaways.
First there are the health concerns.
Most likely your mother or father has a regular physician or some other form of what the health care industry calls a “patient-centered medical home.” Schedule a visit or at least a conversation with these folks (it could be a doctor, a nurse practitioner — whoever is most familiar with your loved one’s situation). Share with them the general itinerary of your trip and what physical activities and accommodations are planned in order to confirm that your senior is up for the exertion. As exhausting as travel can be for any of us, it can be much more so as we age.
Give any mobility equipment Mom or Dad uses a thorough inspection. Canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and more all require regular maintenance, and there’s no worse time to need a repair or replacement than when you’re far from home.
This is probably also a good opportunity to verify your list of medications is up to date. You’ll want to make sure that all of them are refilled in sufficient quantity to last the trip as well as any unforeseen delays due to missed sure you don’t miss a dose. We’ve all experienced how traveling anywhere can break our routines and our sense of time can be distorted. (We offer a Direct Link automated medication dispenser to help with these situations at home.)
Finally, when planning your itinerary, build in some down time for everybody, as well as some alone time for your senior. Constant social interaction can be wearing, and without some scheduled breaks or time alone at different points in the day, you may not be planning the experience any of you wants.
Here are a list of questions that might be useful for you and your younger companions to make those “together” down times more enriching.
Ask your parents/grandparents these home care expert-approved questions. When families gather for the holidays or vacations, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the history and the wisdom of our elders. It doesn’t have to be a major video production and it doesn’t have to be a formal interview. But having these conversations with the older members of our families can be very enlightening and can express to an aging loved one the importance of their life and their story.
Here are some starting points for this discussion that we’ve collected from our in-house senior care experts—the caregivers that many of you have come to know through our in-home care services. Not all of these questions will be relevant for your family, and you’ll likely think of others. But if you’re worried about where to start or how to keep the conversation going, these might be helpful.