Advice for Traveling with Seniors

traveling with seniorsThe biggest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving, is almost here. For families with an aging loved one, that brings up the question of how to get that person to the feast. Whether travel means just a few hours by car or a plane ride, here are some tips for making sure your voyage goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Talk to your loved one’s doctor. Make sure that it’s OK for them to travel before you take off, and that the place where you’re headed is somewhere they can handle. Your doctor will let you know if there’s any special preparations you need to make in advance, and can also give you advice on medication to take if problems with anxiety or other issues arise. Make sure that you fill your loved one’s prescriptions before you go.

2. Do some advance planning. Think through your trip with your loved one’s limitations in mind. Are you renting a car? Then make sure you’ve requested a minivan or other vehicle that will be easy for them to get into and out of. Make sure you can fit their wheelchair and any other bulky equipment. If you’re flying, put in a request for seats meant for the disabled and notify the airline of any dietary restrictions. Also request a wheelchair so that you have some help navigating the airport. Contact both your hotel and airline to make sure they are able to handle any medical equipment that your loved one needs. Request a hotel room at ground level.

3. Be realistic. You may need to scale down on your usual travel routine. Keep things simple. For example, consider renting a cabin in the woods that’s just a two-hour drive away, rather than going to Europe or planning anything that will require a lot of walking (such as visiting an amusement park). Do your research in advance to make sure the location is properly equipped to have your loved one as a guest. Put plenty of padding in your schedule and don’t overload on the activities: it will likely take much more time to do things than normal.

4. Make sure you have necessary supplies. Special stockings can help if your loved one will be sitting for long periods, so that their extremities don’t go numb or a blood clot forms. Make sure you have protective gear for the sun, and especially that you have enough water since seniors are more susceptible to dehydration. Make sure medical information is with you at all times in case there’s an emergency.