What should I be aware of when planning a trip with an elderly companion?
Planning for a trip with an elderly person you are providing care to can be a logistical nightmare. The elderly with physical and mental limitations can enjoy a trip away from home. The key to ensuring a smooth and happy trip is preparation. With Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approaching there will be millions of people traveling, so I will share some key strategies to ensure everyone can enjoy the trip.
What are some preparation tips for traveling before departure?
First and foremost, have the following information organized and readily available before departing.
- The name and phone number of the elderly person’s doctor
- A list of all medications, dosage, and any drug allergies
- Medical insurance information and card
- Living wills and health decision making paperwork
- List of local hospitals in the area to which you are traveling
Preparations Tips for Planning the Trip
The time of day for departure is very important. Travel at a time of day when it is best for the individual that you are caring for. If in the morning they have greater mental clarity, and then plan the departure for early morning. Provide a good breakfast, and have yourself and your elderly family member prepared to leave with most of the preparation having been completed the day before. For example, if traveling by car, pack the car the day before, so that only essentials need to be packed the day of the departure.
If you are travelling by plane, alert the airlines to arrange any necessary assistance with getting around the airport. If wheelchair assistance is required or airport transportation cart, phone the airline before the trip, and call again the day before departure to ensure arrangements have been reserved. If special seating is required, like close to the bathroom, ensure the seat required has been reserved. Plan to take extra supplies on the airplane such as disposable products, pads for the seat, extra set of clothes, and snacks. IPad with movies or music will provide meaningful activity during the flight. Reserve a taxi to pick you up at the airport upon arrival.
If traveling by car, plan ahead with taking the same type of supplies as when flying, but you will have to map out bathrooms and restaurants along the route. Plan to stop at regular intervals to take a bathroom break, and allow some time for stretching and moving about, which helps in reducing stress and combating pain and joint stiffness. Be sure to plan locations that would be appropriate for meal and refreshment breaks.
Once you have arrived at your destination either to stay with family or in a hotel, ensure the proper planning has been arranged prior to arrival. If staying in a hotel arrange to be in a room close to the elevator and if required, a handicap access room and bathroom. If staying with family, ensure bedroom is on the ground floor and the home safe with appropriate locks especially if the elderly person has dementia and a history of wandering. Holidays can be a very busy and active time, so it will be important to try and maintain a regular daily routine with rest intervals throughout the day.
Where can I get help when planning a trip?
A non-medical home care agency will provide a caregiver to assist with planning the trip and accompany you and your loved one during your travels. If you are interested in this service, call AA Care Services and we will have a Caregiver come to your home before departure so they can get familiar with the care needs of the elderly person before departure. The Caregiver can assistance with all personal care needs, transfers, refreshments, and activities to keep the elderly person with physical or mental limitations occupied in meaningful activity.
Happy travels during this holiday season!
Want to find out more?
U.S. Passports & International Travel
Considerations for Older Travelers
Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.