My husband and I decided to include his 85-year old mother on our summer vacation this year. While our plans are still in the works, we expect to be staying at a national park for five or six nights. We haven’t tried this before so we are hoping for a little advice on traveling with a senior. His mom has a variety of small health issues but nothing that would make the trip dangerous for her.
What do you suggest we do to prepare?
It sounds like you are off to a good start by recognizing how important it is to plan ahead when you will be traveling with an older loved one.
Here are a few tips from our team that can help you make the trip memorable for all the right reasons.
Summer Travel with a Senior Loved One
1.) Do Your Research: When you are trying to decide on a destination, spend some time online researching the possibilities. For example, you mentioned going to one of the national parks. Visit the websites of those you are considering to see what senior-friendly accommodations —including pricing discounts for seniors— they offer. You might also want to call the hotels you are considering to how accessible they are for older adults.
2.) Account for Special Needs: Family vacations often mean you will spend a lot of time riding in a car or walking around at a park or other attraction. These can present unique challenges for older adults. For example, hiking through a national park might be fairly easier for you and your children. But for seniors, a lot of walking – especially up and down hills – can present a struggle.
Riding in a car for long distances without stopping can also present a problem for seniors. Be sure you take your mom’s needs into consideration as you are putting together your itinerary.
Your schedule should include frequent breaks to use the restroom, as well as plans to use taxis or public transportation more than you would if your family was making the trip alone.
Also remember to pack a few extra days of the medications and supplies your mom needs in case you are delayed getting back home.
3.) Updated Medical Information: While no family wants to head off on vacation believing a senior loved one is at risk for a health crisis, it is important to prepare for the worst.
A caregiver app can be an easy way to keep track of your mom’s health file and medications. CareZone and MyMedical are two you may find to be helpful when you are on the go. Both provide you with a place to safely store important health information. In case of a crisis, you can use your smartphone to quickly access the information emergency personnel with need.
These types of trips are great ways to build bonds between generations and create lasting memories. So I hope this helps your family do both, Marci!
Assistant Director of Nursing