Traveling with an elderly loved one is an excellent way to show your loved one that you care about them and want to spend quality time with them. It is also good for their mental and physical health to go and do something new. However, traveling with the elderly can be slightly more complicated than traveling alone or with younger family members. Here are 5 tips that will make your travels easier for you and your loved one.
- Plan Your Travel According to Your Loved One’s Needs
Keep in mind that the elderly have different needs and often more urgent needs than your own. Things as simple as having a bathroom easily accessible can make a trip a bit more complicated. Think about what your loved one needs and how will you accommodate those needs. Do they need food to eat with medication? Coffee at 2:00? A handicap accessible restroom? Whether you are driving or flying, how will you find ways to meet those needs?
If this is your first trip with an aging loved one, you may want to practice with a simple day trip to get a feel for how a longer trip may go.
- Prearrange for Special Needs
Not only do you need to think about how you will meet your loved ones needs, but also how will the places and services you are using meet any special needs. Most airlines, hotels, theaters and other popular vacation destinations are happy to accommodate special needs. However, most places need advanced notice to accommodate special needs. Comb through your itinerary and contact any facility that may need to offer special help or accommodations to your loved one.
- Be Prepared for Anything
Being prepared is important for anyone, but especially for those traveling with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. A Place for Mom suggests you order an ID bracelet for your loved one with their name, your name and your contact information on it. If you get separated, it will be easy for someone to help your loved one locate you. Also plan for medication. Always pack medication in carryons or in your purse where you can easily get to it. Luggage can get lost and you don’t want to be without any important medications. Bring insurance cards with you and place copies in your bag as well. You may also want to scout out the location of clinics or hospitals just in case an emergency should arise.
- Take it Easy
It is likely that your elderly traveling companion will need some time to rest. They may need to acclimate to their new environment, take rests in the afternoon and even just stop for coffee to relax for a few moments. Check in with your loved one often and be aware of signs that they are getting tired. Plan your trips with ample rest time each day so that your loved one doesn’t feel like they are infringing on plans when they do need a rest.
- Take Advantage of Senior Discounts
There are a wide array of senior discounts available. Some will benefit your loved one while others will benefit the whole family. Theaters, restaurants, museums and other attractions often offer a senior discount. When traveling with more active seniors, consider the National Parks Senior Park Pass. A Place for Mom points out that the park pass costs only $10 and it allows the pass holder and their entire car to enter most national parks and recreational lands free. For the even more active senior, many ski resorts offer deep discounts and even free skiing for skiers over a certain age. No matter what your loved one’s interests are, you can find activities that your whole family can enjoy together.
With some careful planning and consideration, you can plan a safe and fun trip that your whole family can enjoy together. Keep these tips in mind as you work to plan a vacation for you and your loved one.