What Should I Consider When Traveling with My Elderly Parent?

Are you ready to get out and make some memories with family now that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in most places? You’re not the only one! With summer in full swing and everyone being cooped up for over a year, travel is on the rise. If you’re considering traveling with your elderly parent, here are some things to consider:

Before Traveling

Get on the same page – When you’re thinking about taking a trip, it’s important that your elderly parent actually wants to go. If they feel forced or like an inconvenience, it won’t be a pleasurable experience for you or them. Communicate with them so they know what you’re doing to make the trip enjoyable for everyone.

Bring enough supplies – There’s nothing worse than realizing that you forgot much-needed items when traveling. Be sure that you take some time to really think ahead about what’s needed. This can include:

  • Disposable undergarments in case of incontinence 
  • A change of clothes
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Medicine – talk with the doctor beforehand to make sure you have enough

Reserve needed items ahead – If your elderly parent requires a walker or a shower chair, traveling can present challenges. Therefore, it’s a great idea to do some research and find a place near your destination that rents these items out. That way, you can make sure they are accommodated and safe, and you don’t have the hassle of traveling with these bulky items.

Reserve a wheelchair – If you’re traveling by air, you want to make sure that you reserve a wheelchair even if your parent doesn’t normally use one. Airports are huge and you typically have to walk quite a distance to get to your terminal. Take advantage of the airport’s free wheelchair services. Below are some resources for wheelchairs and more for our local airports:

Reserve priority seating – When you book your flight, notate that you have an elderly passenger so that you can get priority seating and board the plane first.

Make sure there are good travel accommodations – If you are staying with family, make sure that there are enough beds for everyone to sleep comfortably. Also, you may want to consider how many stairs there are to get into the house and if stairs are required to access the bathroom. If you are staying in a hotel, there are accessible rooms that you can reserve to ensure that there is plenty of room for wheelchairs and walkers, as well as grab bars in the bathroom. You may also want to consider having a small refrigerator in the hotel to keep snacks, water, and cold medication if needed. 

Consider traveling with a companion – It can be a lot to travel with an elderly parent if they need continued assistance or if you’re going to a special event like a wedding. If you just want some help so you can relax more and enjoy the moment, consider hiring a companion aide to travel with you. Places like Shepherd’s Staff In-home Care offer companion care for things like special events so that everyone can have the most enjoyable time.

During Your Travels

Take into account your mode of transportation – No matter if you’re traveling by car or plane, you want to make sure that you are allowing enough time to get from point A to point B. When traveling by car, make sure that you are allowing enough time to stop so that everyone can get out and stretch as well as take a bathroom break. If you are traveling by plane, you want to make sure that you are allowing enough time for bathroom breaks, getting the wheelchair you reserved, and stopping for snacks before boarding the plane. Remember that long trips can be very uncomfortable so ensuring that food and bathroom breaks don’t become an issue will help you make the experience more pleasurable.

Have reasonable expectations – If you have kids or grandkids, you may be used to packing the day as full as you can so that everyone can experience the most. Make sure that you and your family have realistic expectations about what will be happening each day. Set the expectation that you will do what you can and if time and energy allows, something can always be added to the day if everyone is in agreement.

Take your time – No matter what you have planned, remember to take your time. Chances are that your elderly parent goes at a bit of a slower pace than the rest of the family and that they like to be in the moment and take everything in. Give them the opportunity to do so and not feel rushed.

Relax, have fun, make memories – At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and making memories. Be sure to relax and enjoy each moment with your family!

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