Traveling with an older adult can be challenging. Whether it’s a short weekend trip or a long vacation, here are some helpful ways to lower stress and make your plans a success.
Talk it Through
Honest and open communication is important. Caregivers and older adults should ask each other questions and discuss their hopes, expectations, and worries about the trip.
Above all, be patient, compassionate, and keep a positive tone throughout the trip. Once lines of communication are open, other logistics will begin to fall into place.
Packing the right medication – and enough of it – is essential. Caregivers should work with their loved ones to get all their medications together in advance.
Bring a medication list, as well as the names and phone numbers of your pharmacy and doctors. Some chain pharmacies let you refill prescriptions remotely if you’re traveling in the U.S., which is extremely helpful when medications run out or get lost. However, make sure you have a back-up plan in case remote refills are not an option.
Consider also making an appointment with your doctor to plan the trip and decide exactly what arrangements or medications you’ll need along the way. This is especially important if the older adult is on oxygen or has other complex medical concerns.
Walking often goes hand-in-hand with vacation, so be sure to factor the older adult’s mobility into your travel plans. Parking lots, security lines, and airport gates can be an issue. Many airports are willing to help, but you might need to arrange for assistance ahead of time.
Falls are also common while on vacation because of stress, unfamiliar terrain, and feeling tired after long flights and car rides. You can lessen the chance of a fall by using a cane, walker, or wheelchair. Walkers and wheelchairs are good choices because both provide extra stability, while canes should only be used by those who need only a little extra support.
Caregivers and older adults can discuss these options together. Ask yourself: should the walker be taken on the trip, or can you rent one at the destination? Is the car trunk large enough to fit your suitcases and
a wheelchair? And will the older adult want to use the walker, even if you bring it?
The goal is to have a great time – with as much relaxation and adventure as your family can safely handle.
Want more helpful advice for caregivers and older adults? Check out these posts on the InnovAge blog: