Traveling with an elderly parent can be a wonderful experience. It is a chance to learn about your family, share memories and have new experiences that you both will always cherish. But it requires planning and organization to make sure your parents are comfortable and happy.
There are the general rigors of taking a trip, which can wear anyone out, no matter the age. There are also concerns about comfort and physical limitations that some elderly parents must face. So plan ahead and follow the right steps to make the journey comfortable and safe for everyone.
10 TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH ELDERLY LOVED ONES.
- Involve your parents in the early stages of planning to decrease their anxiety at travel time. They should be given sufficient time to think about and plan for their special needs.
- It is necessary to consult your parents’ doctor as long distance travel can be physically and emotionally stressful for seniors. The doctor will also explain if a health checkup is necessary.
- Make sure that your elderly parents wear suitable clothing for travel. Their clothing should be loose, non-binding and comfortable. People who have poor circulation can get blood clots when they sit for long periods of time. Find out from their doctor if compression stockings are needed for stimulating circulation during travel.
- Because inactivity during long flights can cause problems with circulation, muscles and/or joints; advise your parents to exercise their joints and legs by getting up, walking down the aisle, shaking and stretching their limbs or simply wiggling them often.
- It may be necessary to walk long distances at larger airports, so a collapsible walker or folding cane may be necessary. These will also be useful on outings. These devices are available online, at medical supply stores or at drugstores. Make sure they fit properly and the seniors are comfortable using them.
- If your parents need wheelchairs, call the airport in advance to check on availability. Even if your parents don't usually need wheelchairs it can be easier for them at airports due to long distances and the rush.
- Takeoff and landing of airplanes can cause uncomfortable sinus and ear pressure and/or nausea. This can be problematic for elders with sinus problems, allergies or even a bad cold. Things like eating, chewing gum, candy or taking a decongestant may help.
- Air travel is associated with delays, uncertainty, cancellations and loss of luggage. Pack your parents' medications in a carryon bag rather than the general luggage. Include over-the-counter as well as prescription medications, toothbrush, body lotions, reading material and tissues.
- Dehydration can be a problem during flights and can pose serious problems for seniors. Make sure that your parents drink plenty of fluids, especially water during the flight. Note that caffeinated or alcoholic beverages are actually dehydrating.
- Flight delays and long waits can be stressful for seniors. To help them to pass the waiting periods comfortably, take along some of their favorite reading materials or games.