“Tis the Season” to Travel Home and Be With Family. Older Parents and Grandparents May Want to Travel this Holiday Season to be with Family, or may in fact be doing so. Be aware of any “special needs” your aging loved one may have which makes travel uncomfortable or dangerous. Learn a Few Helpful Tips to Make This Happy Trip Safe.
Whether by Train, Plane or Automobile, we have entered the busy Holiday Travel Season. Air travel in particular has become less appealing to many of us. It can be especially difficult for folks 80 years old and older. Traveling has some built in stresses and can be physically and emotionally strenuous.
“Dig the well before you are thirsty.” Chinese Proverb
In other words PLAN, PLAN and PLAN ahead in order to have the best chance of a smooth and uneventful travel experience. It is crucial to consider and plan for your elderly relative’s needs while they are visiting you or you are visiting them. Do they have Physical Conditions to be aware of? If there is Dementia, then a whole set of considerations are warranted. Busy, noisy get togethers can be very disorienting, stressful and scary to someone with cognitive impairment. Being out of their usual surroundings and routine with “new” people around can be very alarming.
Consider very carefully how to create a pleasant holiday visit for them or whether perhaps they should be at home with a caregiver and the usual primary caregiver make the trip themselves. It is equally important for the well parent to be at family events. Be in the pictures and videos. Special planning for a cognitively impaired parent to be cared for and safe is warranted.
Things to Consider beforehand:
* what, if any are your parent’s physical or cognitive impairments which require special care en route?
* What medications do they need? Have them ordered and use the marked containers they come in, to avoid medication mishaps if you just have the pills in a baggie. Keep them in your travel bag, not checked luggage.
* Is it safe for him or her to travel alone? Can a family member travel with them? Is there someone they want to bring? Should a caregiver be hired to travel with them?
* Keep it simple, mail the gifts ahead of time, travel as light as possible. It is easier, cheaper and less physically demanding.
* Speak with the airline in advance. Order pre-boarding and or a wheelchair with sky captain to accompany them.
* Give yourself a lot of extra time. There will be traffic, lots of other travelers, lines, long walks through the terminal or stairs. Use the airport travel carts with driver – that is why they are there, an elderly person is who should be using them.
* Leave for airport or bus/train station early – avoid any added stress and rushing.
* Pack in your carry on – water and food. You will have to dipose of water bottle at security but you may need a drink before you reach there.
* Know what the airlines need for security – before you get there. Size of liquid containers, see through bag, weight of suitcase etc.
* Pack a few days before you leave and get to bed early the night before. You want to start out being well rested – not fatigued.
* If you think your mom or dad needs extra help once at your home – hire an aide. This may be more helpful to you than even to them.
* Look around your home if your aging family member will be staying with you. Are there stairs? Is the hallway between bedroom and bathroom well lit? Get an extra nightlight. Will they be warm enough? Do you know their dietary restrictions??? Assign someone to be inconspicuously watchful over your parents – to anticipate their needs.
* Have fun, take pictures and enjoy this special trip.
With a little extra planning, a wonderfully memorable family visit during the holidays can be achieved.