How To Plan Vacations For Elderly Parents

Despite what many people think, being an older adult doesn't mean you're done traveling and exploring. The desire to explore and see the world doesn't vanish with age. The older we get, though, the harder it can get to travel safely. When choosing travel destinations, senior travelers should be careful to ensure that their journey is the kind of adventure they are ready to experience.To take a family vacation with a senior is possible; even so, bringing them out of their familiar, safe, and cozy living environment poses additional challenges and needs. Here we give you some essential tips for planning a vacation for elderly parents. 

6 Tips For Planning A Vacation For Elderly Parents

Choose a senior-friendly destination 

If you've come to terms with the idea of traveling with your loved one, who’s elderly, then move on to the next point of the list: to decide what kind of travel you want to make. Choosing a tour is not a bad option, as is often the easiest way to explore a country where you don't speak the language, particularly with a travel partner whose needs can vary from your own. Unfortunately, tours do not have much local color, and can also be strenuous (early morning wake up calls, tons of sights packed in one day, etc.) One way to remain independent is to change it up by booking your hotels separately from other travel logistics. That needs preparation. It helps to have a wish list of the places and cities you would like to visit. Once you’re there, you can choose from local tours or local guides, which can be as professional as tour companies can provide. Considering and planning for this is a way of selecting a friendly destination. Your elderly traveling partner's age, mobility, and health status may also influence which country you are visiting, and at what time of year. Climate extremes will place massive tolls on us as we age, so it might not be the best idea to visit a jungle during the hottest, rainiest season. Equally, it may not be the wisest decision to fly to Norway during the dead of winter. Another factor is that when people age, so do their immune systems, so when deciding a country to visit can also be an essential consideration. Don’t select destinations with a multitude of emerging infectious diseases. Still, it is wise to do so in full awareness of the potential effects on your older travel companion.

Get US protection abroad

One of the first things that you should take care of is the paperwork needed to ensure your loved one will travel safely no matter the circumstances. Here are the essential elements of primary and ideal protection for your elderly loved one: 

Get approval by your medical team: Meet with your parent's doctor to decide whether they can handle a trip and use your best judgment.
Pack medications and paperwork: Take with you all necessary medical documents, including a list of prescriptions, advance plans, and medical history.
Plan the flight: Allow longer link times and arrange cart transport inside the airport.
Make driving a comfortable thing: Consider a rental vehicle with more room and features that are available.
Ensure protection abroad: Consider getting the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan, a free US program for leaving the country. The State Department requires US people traveling abroad to register their trip with the nearest US Consulate or Embassy.

Book early to get handicap accessibility

Ensure that the facilities you visit have comfortable access to people with disabilities because even if there are more available places with handicap accessibility, they are still limited. You can book specific rooms in most hotels, but if you want to stay in a rented home or cottage, you have to call a travel agent or contact a rental company well in advance. It's not uncommon to book a disabled-accessible home 6-9 months in advance at some famous resorts. Bear in mind that stairs are typically the main challenge for older people to navigate. Also, make sure the place in which you're staying has large bathrooms with safety rails for easy wheelchair access.

Stick to familiarity and routine

When traveling with your elderly loved one, you need to focus on maintaining the best possible routine, especially their eating and sleeping routines, since minor or unexpected changes can sometimes feel confusing and stressful for them, especially for someone living with dementia. If you have some meals and bedtimes, stick to them as much as possible, such as watching their favorite show before sleeping or listening to certain music to help them relax during the day. 

Pace your trip around your parents’ needs

If you're the sort of person who whizzes around a city and sees ten sites in a single day, you may need to lower your aspirations and energy level, as older travelers don't move as quickly as younger ones. It is more practical to intend on visiting one or (at most) two places a day. Changing your standards will help reduce your loved one’s dissatisfaction.

Going at a slower speed has some benefits. How many times have you come back from those holiday whirlwinds feeling tired and in need of another vacation? Moving slower will help relax and make the journey less stressful. Spending more time in one location also helps you enjoy the venue, aesthetics, and environment better.

Likewise, in many nations, lingering over meals isn't just for the elderly; it's part of the culture. So do what the locals do: if your elderly partner wants to eat during half the  day, then take it as an opportunity to get to know the country's gastronomy or talk with the waiters and other diners. If your elderly loved one needs a mid-day siesta, this might be a good idea for you too. Taking a rest on a park bench is also a perfect way to get to know the local community. Going slow can be more satisfying than expected, so try seeing the situation as an excellent opportunity to release your tension as well. 

Account for all their health issues 

You can say it's obvious, but make sure you visit the doctor before you leave and make sure you get all necessary items, such as vaccines or other prophylactic measures—shots of immunoglobulin, etc.—depending on where you’re planning to go. If your parents have any health problems, your doctor will advise on how to stay safe during the trip. Your doctor can also prescribe medication such as antimalarials or other medicines required if one of you gets sick.

Remember to pack your first aid and health products: hand wipes or hand sanitizers, Tylenol or aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, constipation stool softeners, sleep aids, band-aids, and alcohol wipes. If you or your elderly travel partner are taking prescription drugs, try to pack them in your carry-on and not in your checked luggage. If you do this, there's no chance of missed doses if the belongings get misplaced or the flight is delayed. If your parent has diabetes, be prepared to schedule your trip for meal times to prevent low sugar levels in the blood. In case of a dip in blood sugar, make sure you have food and drinks with you while sightseeing.

Properly pack and label their medications 

Always emphasize the importance of getting all their drugs and ensure they are labeled with current doses and times. Avoid making your older loved one being the traveler loaded with bags of prescription bottles or expired medication. Plan well. If some medicine gets left behind, call your doctor immediately upon arrival at your destination and arrange for prescriptions to be shipped to a nearby pharmacy to prevent hazardous dosing lapses.

Plan for medical emergencies

Don’t forget to bring a full emergency checklist if your loved one suffers a medical setback while commuting. This kit should include a complete list of prescriptions, physician contact details, related medical history, and any family and friends' contact information.

Work as a caregiving team 

Work as a caregiving team. Whether it's a tranquil road trip, or a cross-country flight, paying attention to details is crucial when planning a senior holiday. Think about the safety features you're going to need, how much luggage and medical supplies you're going to fly with, and the unique needs you have to address on the journey. The best way to predict your loved one's needs is to take thorough notes while at home and on outings going through their everyday routine. Consider these tips when booking tickets, renting cars, hotel rooms, and arranging events. Be sure to ask about the facilities where you will be staying and inquire about additional accessibility features that the airline, hotel, or other businesses provide, which could be helpful. For example, you might want to book hotel rooms located on the first floor or adjacent, arrange specialty meals that match your loved one's dietary needs, or reserve aisle seats near the aircraft washrooms to facilitate going to the bathroom. A caregiving team is in charge of helping the elderly with daily activities, and you should take on that role during the vacations. Even so, if you have the possibility of taking their caregiver with you on the trip, then you can save a lot of time and hard work. If possible, consider this option as a priority.

Relax and enjoy yourself 

Of course, when traveling with your older loved ones, bear in mind that you can end up being the caretaker, the tour guide, the navigator, and the interpreter—if you happen to know the local language and your partner does not. All of this can come down to a world of uncertainty and anxiety. You don't want something to happen to your beloved partner after all, and you don't want to feel the guilt for it. If you don't want to be a nervous mess by the end of the ride, make sure to plan your own time. Arranging time helps you and your parents to separate themselves from each other. We all need our room, even in the best of relationships between parent and child. Realizing that and asking for it before creating resentment can be the salvation of a journey, and can make it more enjoyable for you both.

Summarize blog

To summarize, nobody told you it would be easy traveling with your parents, but if you're willing to wing it, consider this article to help you with the massive task of planning a vacation for your elderly parents. Do you need help with the job? Call Right At Home so that we can lend you one of our professional caregivers. Allow yourself to be freed from the whole responsibility. You can also contact us anytime if you want us to solve any doubts regarding the elements to consider when planning a vacation for your loved ones. We understand the situation, and our experts will make sure you've covered all the basics before starting your trip. 

Bruce Gropper
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