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What to Do Before Your Next Trip with Elderly Parents

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:

  • Carefully consider the destination and length of trip
  • Consider alternate modes of transportation
  • Make a packing list
  • Plan for breaks
  • Watch the weather
  • Schedule alone time
  • Don’t forget a camera

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.

Schedule a doctor visit before your trip

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.

Double-check any specialized equipment

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. 

Check medication supplies

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.)

Plan for down time

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.

Happy Travels!

30 Life Questions to Ask Your Parents/ Grandparents

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.

  1. Tell me your full name and when and where you were born.
  2. Do you know why you were given that name?
  3. Tell me about your parents and grandparents.
  4. What about your brothers and sisters?
  5. What happened to them?
  6. What was your home like growing up?
  7. Did you have a nickname growing up?
  8. Tell me about your friends.
  9. What was the first trip you took?
  10. What was your first car?
  11. What was your favorite subject in school/high school/college?
  12. Were you ever in the service?
  13. What did you do in the service?
  14. What was your first job?
  15. What was your favorite job?
  16. When you were my age, what were you doing?
  17. What’s your earliest memory?
  18. What kind of music did you like?
  19. How did you and your spouse meet?
  20. How did you know you were in love?
  21. What was your first date?
  22. What did you find challenging during the first years of your marriage?
  23. What was your secret for staying together?
  24. What were your children like when they were little? When they were my age?
  25. What were holidays like when you were young?
  26. What were holidays like when your children were young?
  27. What were some of your hobbies growing up?
  28. What do you enjoy now?
  29. What are your hopes for your family?
  30. What is the most important thing you’ve learned during your life?