Traveling with an elderly parent can be stressful if the journey isn’t planned, but there are many steps you can take to make the trip memorable and enjoyable for all! Whether it’s a flight to visit family and friends, or to travel to a fun destination, the Phoenix senior care team at Nightingale Homecare offers these tips to make the most of your adventure:
Your loved one’s doctor should give approval prior to any travel, especially when there are travel restrictions related to a medical condition that may be affected by travel and activity. It will be important to have physician notes to support the need for travel insurance, which you should consider prior to any travel with an elder. Ask the doctor for a note if your loved one may set off security alarms or metal detectors at the airport due to artificial implants such as knees or hips. It’s also a good idea to ask the doctor for back-up written prescriptions, to avoid missed doses if your loved one loses his or her filled prescriptions, or if travel plans are extended.
Prior to going on any trip, it will be important to find the most direct flights to reach the destination. Avoid traveling at night as it will disrupt sleep schedules. Take some time to check flight times and layovers and ask for disabled seats to make travel easier. Don’t forget to check for senior discounts when you travel, as many airlines now offer them. Airports and airplane travel can become wearisome, so booking the best available flight will be important.
Book hotels on the lower floor with wheelchair access, if necessary. Check out the amenities of the hotel such as shuttle services and tours that are handicapped assessable. It may be important to book adjacent, separate rooms to allow your loved one the opportunity for privacy and adequate rest.
PACKING FOR THE JOURNEY
Taking some time to thoroughly plan your loved one’s packing can save a lot of unnecessary time and frustration. Make a list of all prescriptions and medical supplies in advance and make sure they are packed in a carry-on bag, in case your loved one is separated from his/her check-on bag. Take this list, extra written prescriptions, and physician medical statements with you. Ensure also that your loved one has copies of all insurance cards and contact information in his/her carry-on bag. Consider making another copy of all these documents to include in your bag as a back-up. Equally important is to carry a list of all emergency contact information, including your loved one’s physician and family and friends. It’s important not to rely on the numbers saved in a phone, just in case it is lost or damaged while traveling. Other items to remember are comfortable shoes and a travel pillow for long flights. Make sure your loved one packs an extra set of eyewear. It would be a shame to miss seeing the sights if a pair of glasses breaks along the way!
Once the big day has arrived, there are some additional steps you can take to ease a long travel day. Arrive about two hours prior to your flight to allow for lines and to keep you from feeling rushed. Consider asking for shuttle or wheelchair service to the gate. This can save a lot of energy and time and is typically a free service; however, don’t forget the tip! Plan to have a light snack at the airport, and use the restroom before boarding the flight. Encourage your loved one to leave the purse or wallet at home and opt instead for a money belt hidden under clothing. This will not only free up hands, but prevent a lost or stolen wallet.
It’s a good idea to add medication and treatment schedules to an alarm on your phone while traveling with an elder. Between time changes and activities, important medications can get missed if you aren’t on your toes.
Remember long flights put your elder loved one at risk for blood clots. It’s important to keep the legs moving frequently to improve blood flow. If your loved one isn’t at risk for balance problems, a stroll up and down the aisle is a good way to keep moving. If you are confined to the seat, encourage exercise to the calves by extending the legs straight out and flexing the ankles by moving toes toward you. If possible, ask your loved one to pull each knee up toward the chest and with hands for support, hold it there for about 15 seconds, then lower the leg and repeat. If your loved one has a history of blood clots and is on blood thinners, he/she may need compression stockings for the flight. Most importantly, know the symptoms of blood clots and consult a doctor immediately at the first sign:
- Pain or tenderness
- Skin that is warm to the touch
- Redness of the skin
ARRIVAL AT YOUR DESTINATION
It may be tempting to hit the ground running and go visit family or take in the sights; however, travel can take its toll with fatigue and dehydration in the elderly. Consider taking some time to enjoy a refreshing drink, have a snack, and take a rest, especially when your loved one is accustomed to napping. It’s usually best to avoid a full itinerary and pace yourselves with frequent rest periods. Most importantly, ask your loved one what he or she feels up to doing. Even if you go solo on a few activities, your loved one will appreciate your account of the events over a meal together!
Keep in mind too that the Phoenix senior care experts at Nightingale Homecare are always available to accompany seniors on trips, and are skilled in ensuring all of a senior’s needs are fully met every step of the way. Contact us at 602) 504-1555 to learn more!