Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Elderly Travel - Things to Consider Before You Go


Old suitcaseWhen traveling with elderly people, there are some special considerations to keep in mind. Here are some suggestions to make the trip more comfortable. First, be sure you plan ahead and take into consideration all of the special needs they might have.  Depending on method of travel, your needs might vary. And second, remember the goal - to have fun and to enjoy the trip!  People have differences in how they approach vacations.  Some have the goal of total relaxation while others think of it like a marathon of sight-seeing and activity that can be quite draining for some people.  Make sure your goals match with your travel companion!

Get the OK from Your Doctor

Be sure to contact your doctor to find out what precautions you may need to take.  If you have certain medical conditions, there may be special instructions.  For example, some people on long plane or car rids experience circulation problems.  Your doctor may give you exercises or some other way to deal with these types of issues.   Also, if you have recently been hospitalized or had a medical event, you may want to just make sure you are recovered enough to be safe for travel.

Bathroom Breaks

If you are traveling by bus or car, frequent stops may be necessary. Some travel with portable potties for those long stretches of road between towns. Another consideration would be incontinence products. If your loved one suffers from arthritis or leg cramps, you might want to consider leg wraps. To make unfastening the seat belt easier they make an easy reach seat belt handle. They also make car handy bars to make it easier to get in and out of the car.


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Medication and Elderly Travel

You will want to make sure you are transporting medications in approved containers. The airlines may require you to transport medication in the prescription bottles. The best way to do so is to keep them in your carry on and in a zipped baggie. Whatever method you choose be sure that you are taking along an ample supply. You should consider preparing a medical history and medication list and keeping it with your loved one as well in case there are any problems.  It wouldn't hurt to have your doctor do a medication check to see if you really still need them all and/or if there are any potential side effects, etc. before you go.  Proper medication managment is always important, but medication problems can especially ruin a vacation needlessly.  Also, because of the disturbance in routine, it may be a good idea to have some way to remind yourself of dosage times.  Sageminder medicaiton reminder calls can call a cell phone anywhere you go or you can find another timer or alarm system to ensure proper management.

Request Special Services Ahead of Time

You may want to contact the airline, cruise ship or hotel to see if they have accessible seating, etc. and/or other assistance if you have any disabilities.  Sometimes, there are special services that you may not even be aware of that would help you in knowing what you can expect. 

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Air Travel

When going by air, one thing to think about at first is the security.  Wearing easy clothing and minimizing carry-on items helps.  Shoes that are very easy to take on and off is a bonus and remembering to inform the security officer if you have had surgery that required metal devices placed in a hip, etc. can help ward off bells and whistles as you go through the scanners.  It is also a good idea as you book your flight to consider not just cost, but also the best trip in terms of direct flights to minimize switching planes and running through airports.  And, for people with limited energy, selecting a departure time at mid-morning or early afternoon can ensure the best stamina through the trip.

Be Realistic

Some people need a vacation to recover from their vacation.  Try to have fun, but remember - it is not the destination so much as the journey.  No one has fun if everyone is exhausted and stressed.  So, imagine all the things you want to do and then scale back by cutting out low priority items.   If you have enough energy by the end of any day or by the end of the week, you can always revisit those deleted items later.  The point is to enjoy and relax and most of all to connect with others in a meaningful way.  These things cannot be done if you are also trying to run a race!


Things to consider gathering and taking with you to help make the trip a smooth one are:  passport, ID, Contact information, Doctor contact, discount cards such as AAA or AARP, and keeping a medical bracelet or information on your person if you have any special medical conditions.  These things can all be placed in some kind of easy-to-wear light cross body or fanny pack. 


Since traveling long distances can be uncomfortable, be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing. Carry a laxative since constipation is common when sitting for hours and not drinking as much water. Keeping a bottle on water on hand is helpful for keeping hydrated and for taking medications. Pack a breakfast bar or small snack. Not only to feel full in between meals, but because some medications need to be taken with food.

If you plan to do a lot of walking you might want to consider taking along a cane seat, folding walker with a seat, or some other device to enable the loved one to take a rest for a few minutes. Renting a scooter may be a better option for you. To help them carry packages, attach a walker or wheel chair bag.

Hotel or Other Accomodations

When staying in hotel rooms, bathing can be difficult - so taking along a portable shower bench would be helpful. Some items that are often hard to find if you should need them are hearing aid batteries and denture cream, so be sure to have extra packed. If you fear getting separated from your loved one, consider a GPS cell phone.

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