With summer about to go into full swing, you’re likely making plans for the annual family getaway, a time to pack up the kids, the car, and take a break from the daily routine. But if you’re planning on including your elderly loved one in your care as part of the trip, there are a few planning precautions and getaway guidelines you might want to keep in mind.
• What’s up, doc?: Planning on leaving town with your elderly loved one? Better squeeze in a trip to the doctor beforehand. There are important questions you’ll want to discuss including:
- How to handle medications they’re currently taking—and if they should include any additional supplements to help offset any travel issues (including anxiety or mental health issues)
- Whether vaccinations are necessary
- If all prescriptions are up to date (then make a trip to the pharmacist, so you can head out of town with all medications refilled)
• Driving: Choose your vehicle wisely: Whether renting a car or trying to choose which vehicle from your family’s lineup to make the trip with, consider the limitations of your elderly loved on. Make sure any wheelchairs, walkers or mobility aids can fit in the vehicle with room to spare.
• Flying? Consider comfort: If possible, request seat assignments in areas designated for disabled travelers. Arrive even earlier to your gate then you would if traveling solo; although your loved one will likely get to be among the first to board, you want to make sure they feel they have enough time to get settled in before the flight leaves. And, if walking is difficult, make use of the wheelchairs available at most airport terminals to make gate-to-gate travel quicker, safer and easier for the whole family. (Hint: most of the time, airlines include an employee to help transport your loved one in the wheelchair, an added bonus—and stress relief).
On the road
• Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn: When booking your room, ask for an option on the first floor, which will take some of the strain of walking away—and make accessibility much easier for the wheelchair and walker bound. And speaking of wheelchairs, if your loved one is in one, make sure to talk to the hotel staff when you make your reservations to make sure your room is in an accessible area of the grounds.
• It’s in the itinerary: Let’s face it, vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing, but, quite often, they can become tiresome as days become packed with as many activities as possible. Keep in mind the limitations of your elderly loved one—and make efforts to set your pace to match it. This may require a few afternoons where one family member kicks back with the eldest group member, or perhaps an afternoon or two where the whole crew just finds a quiet, cool place to relax and enjoy one another.
And, above all, try not to stress too much. With your pre-planning steps in place, you’re set for a great time. Enjoy the chance to get out and explore with the whole family, make new memories and become even closer.