Travelling with Elderly Parents
Continuing to go on adventures, explore new places, or visit favourite spots can be incredibly enriching, enjoyable, and exciting for seniors as they age. Travelling with seniors typically involves a few extra considerations to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Whether your parents want to travel to visit family and friends or just to explore and have the experience of travelling, trips can take seniors to other cities, across the country, or to a different part of the world altogether. As is the case with many aspects of growing older, there are some features of older age that can make travelling a little more challenging for seniors which require a little more planning and attention.
Research and Planning
There is always a fair amount of research and planning that goes into organizing a trip, but when it comes to seniors there are a few extra points that should be considered.
- The Destination: Discussing the destination and its suitability for travelling with your senior companion can be an important part of making sure the trip is a manageable and enjoyable one. When choosing a destination, think about how well it fits with what seniors can comfortably and happily do in terms of activities and events, as well as what interests them and what they hope to get out of the experience.
- Special Services: When travelling, there are often special accommodations and options available to seniors that can help to make their travel safer and more comfortable. Arrange for a shuttle or wheelchair within the airport to help seniors get from one place to another, take special care when choosing seats on the plane, and inform staff of any special requirements during the travel itself. If a senior will be travelling on their own, it is often possible to arrange for a staff member within the airport or from the plane to accompany them throughout each step until they arrive.
- Documentation: Keeping track of the necessary travel documentation and papers can be extra stressful for seniors. Arranging and organizing items like passports, tickets, ID, emergency contact info, itineraries, and travel details in advance is highly recommended. This offers peace of mind to make it easier for you or for staff members to help them throughout the travel process.
- Consulting with a Doctor: Before planning any travel, always make sure that a doctor gives the green light. Checking in with a doctor about your destination, plans, and mode of transport can help them let you know what is okay and how to plan in advance for possible health-related challenges.
- Services at Your Destination: It can help ease stress by researching in advance the available medical facilities and other possible services at your destination in case anything should go wrong.
In terms of packing, it is always easier to keep track of fewer things, so packing light is often advisable. That being said, it is also important to make sure that all needs are tended to and that all necessities make their way into those bags. Give some meaningful thought to which items are best kept in a carry-on if you decide to check any bags, and make sure seniors are easily able to identify their own bags so they can keep track of their belongings.
Making sure medications are available in the directed doses for the duration of the trip is critical and packing a few extra is always a good idea in case something goes wrong with the travel or a pill or two get dropped or lost.
Make a List
Thinking about what you will actually need on a trip can sometimes be difficult, so sitting down and taking some time to make a list of what will be packed is helpful. Consideration should be given to the number of days at the destination as wells as the weather forecast. Make sure seniors have enough comfortable clothes and some good comfortable shoes that will get them through the trip happily.
Give Yourself Ample Time
When it comes to the travel itself, one major consideration is time. When travelling with an elderly person, it is often best practice to give yourself more time than you would if you were travelling alone or with younger folks. Sometimes seniors need to take more breaks, are slower moving, or just get overwhelmed and need to take things at their own pace, so tack on some extra time to avoid being late for anything along the way.
Making sure that seniors have an easy way to get in touch throughout the trip can also be helpful. This includes checking in along the way to let you know how things are going or getting any questions they have answered. If you are travelling together and you need a way to reconnect if you get separated, an easy way to get in contact is required. Whether it be texting, calling, or something else that works well for you, make sure to factor this element in to keep everyone safe and at ease.
Lastly, enjoy the experience! Travelling can be such a wonderful way to broaden perspectives, learn new things, reconnect with old memories, or just explore and have diverse experiences. Travelling has its stressful elements, but always remember to enjoy it and make wonderful memories along the way.