Tips for Caregivers Traveling with Seniors
Traveling can be a lot of fun, as you enjoy new sights and experiences. Unfortunately, for many people it’s a luxury that’s put off until retirement. Taking vacations as seniors allows them to enjoy these dreams at their leisure, but there are special considerations required to make the trip enjoyable and to protect the health of the senior traveler.
Talk to the Doctor
Before taking off to parts unknown, make sure the primary care doctor is aware of the trip. Have the doctor do a thorough checkup to be certain the senior is up to the physical demands of the vacation. Get all prescriptions refilled so that they don’t run in the middle of the trip.
Just because a senior has a chronic condition, it doesn’t mean they should never take a trip. However, it’s important to know how the change in time and routine will impact them. For example, a diabetic will need to pay close attention to sugar levels when eating different foods and functioning on an unusual schedule.
Plan for Accommodations
Know the details about the place where the senior will be staying. Make sure it’s wheelchair accessible if your loved one has limited mobility or uses a wheelchair or walker to get around. This becomes an even more important task if you’re traveling out of the country. Many hotels only have stairs or rooms with a public bathroom down the hall for showers and toileting.
The senior may need more breaks for sightseeing and spend more time in their lodging. You may want to include extra amenities to ensure their comfort during these periods. For instance, an on-site restaurant or room service can offer convenient meals when the senior is tired from a day of activity.
It’s common for travelers to want to fit in as much as they can on their trips. They want to hit all of the big attractions and attend every event. However, this is often impractical for older people who can’t hold up to the rigorous activity. Consider how much walking and standing they can realistically handle.
If you’re driving to your vacation, plan for extended stops to stretch sore muscles and stiff joints. Break the trip up into two or three days instead of driving for 15 hours straight. Once you arrive at your destination, include only one or two activities each day and allow for rest periods in between. The person may go out in the morning to see an attraction and come back to their lodging after lunch for a nap before going out to dinner in the evening.
A few other important things to consider:
- Pack items they may need such as snacks or sunscreen. Know the weather and pack clothing that will be appropriate for any changes.
- Find out about nearby medical facilities and what OTC medications are available, especially if you’re in a foreign country.
- Let your loved one know if you plan to go out on your own while they nap. Choose a safe, quiet location for lodging to ensure they get their rest and feel secure when you’re away.
- Be prepared for disorientation, especially if the person suffers from dementia. Confusion will increase upon waking in a strange room.
- Keep the person calm and prevent worry by not showing your own frustrations.
Traveling with seniors can be an enjoyable experience. They get to enjoy different sights and live out the dream of seeing new places. If you plan ahead and understand the special needs of seniors, it can be a rewarding time for both of you.