Thoughts of warm family moments, laughing together, and shared memories are all strong drivers for planning a trip with extended family.
There is a lot of material online about traveling with toddlers, but the quirks of traveling with an older adult are seldom taken into account.
Discuss with your parent’s Doctor
If you plan to take your parent to an exotic place, please run it by their doctor first.
Special thought may be required regarding climate, immunizations, prescriptions, or medical equipment.
If you have never helped an older adult in or out of a wheelchair, you may not fully understand what you are in for while you travel.
Either try a few days as a family caregiver, or budget for their usual caregiver to come on the trip with you
Have more than one copy of all travel papers including: –
- travel insurance cards,
- travel tickets,
- other medical documentation, etc.
Other medical documents might include descriptions of metal implants or portable oxygen needs as well as contact knowledge for your parent’s doctor.
Here is what you should do with each copy:
- Keep one set in your parents carry-on bag
- Prepare another set in your parent’s check in bag (if any)
- Keep one set at home
- Take a photo of each form and save it on your phone
Your elderly parent should have some sort of wearable identification, especially if they have a tendency to wander.
Make sure to have a photo of your parent on you in case they do wander off.
Keep your parent’s needs in mind when booking transport.
Do not book an early morning flight if you know it will be tough to get your parent ready on time.
Similarly don’t book a late flight or transfer if your parent has dementia or may suffer sundowner’s syndrome.
Plan to arrive at the airport early enough for unexpected bathroom or snack breaks.
Make sure that there is enough of each prescription left to last the whole trip, and be aware of any medications or food contraindications.
Be careful of buffet meals, particularly at hotels , grapefruit or spicy food might trigger stomach or medicine issues.
Ask parents before setting out to a meal whether any foods are likely to cause them problems
You can request wheelchair transport through most transport hubs such as airports, stations etc. although you may need to arrange this in advance.
You may be able to arrange for advanced boarding to allow your parent to get on the plane or bus or train before the masses.
It is also worth requesting special seating such as in a row near the restroom.
This is also worth thinking about with Hotels and Cruises – requesting a room near the elevator can make a big difference.
Make sure that all your parent’s prescriptions are kept in their carry-on bag in case checked baggage gets delayed.
The typical liquid limitations will not be applied for prescription medication. Be aware of ant over the counter liquids, which could be confiscated.
Keep medications in a separate container and easily accessible, so that security do not have to rifle through the entire bag.
Many travel insurance policies stop at age 70, but there are some specialist providers out there.
In the UK SAGA is famous for looking after the over 50s whilst the USA and Australia also have strong networks for older travelers.
If in doubt ask your travel agent, they should know what is available,
It might sound like a lot to take in, but vacations can be particularly special where grandchildren and grandparents all get to come along.
It may be a once or twice in a life time kind of vacation, and a bit of planning can make it far less stressful.
You may also enjoy our Blog post on avoiding travel mistakes
Image Credit: https://www.smartparents.sg