Travel and adventure have no age limits. However, traveling with elderly parents, family members, or friends may look a little different than their past escapades. With a little research and planning, you can create a vacation to be remembered.
Preparing to Travel with an Elderly Parent
Your stress-free vacation is just a checklist away! When traveling with senior parents the most important thing is research and preparation. This can maximize the fun for everyone and save some frustration down the road.
Talk to the Doctor
Although traveling with seniors/elderly parents is fun, it comes with many unique challenges and possible risks such as deep vein thrombosis, ear and sinus issues, and motion sickness. It’s a great idea for everyone to get a pre-travel checkup, but it’s particularly important if your loved one has been sick or undergone some sort of medical procedure recently. This is also the perfect time to plan any necessary vaccinations if you’re traveling overseas. Discussing any medical conditions and general health beforehand will ensure they stay happy and healthy during travel time and on the trip.
If your elderly companion takes any prescription or over-the-counter medications, be sure to pack enough for the trip with a few extra doses to account for any travel delays. When you pack medications, put them in your parents’ carry-on, and be sure to keep them in the original bottles to avoid issues at customs.
It’s also a great idea to keep a list of all the medications along with the times they should be taken to ensure their routine stays intact. Should any medical emergencies occur during your trip, having this list to present to a doctor can prevent possible interactions with new medications.
Choose the Right Destination
Vacation should be fun for everyone. You may not be trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest, but there’s still a whole world you can explore with your elderly travel companion. The best vacation destinations for seniors are places that are easy to navigate, have temperate weather, offer accessible transportation, and have few language barriers. Cruises are also a wonderful option for senior travelers as it’s easy to accommodate requirements such as wheelchairs and dietary restrictions.
Reserve Special Services
We all know the journey is just as important as the destination. Discuss any long-distance travel with elderly parents’ doctor to find the best method of travel and make yourself aware of any particular risks.
Once you’ve decided your method of transportation, make arrangements for any special care services you may need. In many cases these services are free of charge. If you’re flying, call ahead to reserve wheelchair service, so it’s easy for you and your loved one to get around the airport. You can also check to see if your airline offers pre-boarding for seniors.
Road trips are a bit easier to manage, but you should still plan frequent stops to mitigate sitting for long periods of time. If possible, look up rest stops ahead of time.
No matter what method of travel you choose, it’s important to make accommodations for any special dietary needs. Pack snacks to combat low blood sugar and request meal alternatives on the plane or train if needed.
Though we try to plan for any potential risk or complication, sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances. Purchasing travel insurance is a good idea for anyone taking a trip but can prove to be an invaluable peace of mind for those traveling with an elderly parent. Medicare and many private insurance policies don’t cover medical treatment in foreign countries. Having travel insurance can help you find a provider overseas and lessen any incurred costs.
Trips During Traveling with Seniors or an Elderly Parent
The most important thing to remember when you’re traveling is this is a vacation for everyone. With a little planning and patience, no one has to sacrifice their fun or their comfort.
Don’t Stuff the Itinerary
With so much to do and see it can be tempting to schedule every moment of your vacation, but this leaves little time for relaxation which is important for seniors. Remember to build downtime into your schedule so your elderly parents can be part of the fun throughout the entire vacation.
Choose Activities Everyone Can Enjoy
We want everyone to have fun on their vacation. This means planning activities that everyone can take part in. If your activities involve lots of walking, consider renting an electric wheelchair for the trip so your loved one doesn’t miss out on all the wonderful sightseeing. Don’t forget to call ahead or do a quick search online to check on any requirements such as wheelchair accessibility.
Many travel safety recommendations are things we should all heed during vacation – don’t wear flashy jewelry, don’t travel at night, take your prescribed medications. Still, there are some things to be extra wary of when traveling with seniors. Older people tend to have more sensitivity to new foods, which can result in Traveler’s diarrhea. This is common, but it can be more than a nuisance; it can cause dehydration and can actually make some medications less effective. Be sure to check in with your travel companion and watch for any signs of illness.
There’s no reason to stop traveling as you or your loved ones get older. In fact, traveling with seniors can actually enrich the experience by making us slow down and be more present in each moment. All it takes to plan a fantastic vacation is a little forethought and preparation.
As the premier senior caregiver service in Columbia, SC, our caregivers are passionate about integrated care. We love helping older people continue to live full, active lives. You can learn more about our services here.