Vacations are a tradition for many families, but they can get complicated when very young or elderly relatives are involved. It’s a lot of work to travel with kids or elderly family members, particularly if the latter have significant physical or cognitive challenges. That said, we believe the extra effort is worth it—and with a bit of planning, your trip can run smoothly from start to finish.
Whether you’re planning a vacation to escape these last few weeks of winter or looking ahead to some family travel this summer or fall, here are some tips to help you travel safely and happily with seniors.
Travelling with seniors takes a lot more planning than travelling with a younger crowd, but it’s worth it to make those family memories together. If you are your aging loved one’s Power of Attorney for health, start by reaching out to their doctor to confirm that they’re physically well enough to travel. If your senior family member manages their own health, ask them if they have any concerns about taking a trip. In most cases, these concerns won’t be reason enough to avoid travel—you’ll just have to plan around certain needs or challenges.
After ensuring that your loved one can travel safely, get an updated list of their medications (and be sure to fill these prescriptions before taking off). Consider compression socks for the airplane to reduce the risk of medical issues in-flight, bring a neck pillow, and pack any comfort items that are used regularly at home (a heat pad, for example). If you don’t use a pill sorter or blister pack at home, get one for the trip. The idea is to mitigate any health or pain management issues before they happen!
Choose your destination wisely
When you’re choosing a destination and accommodations for your family vacation, there are several key things to consider: length and mode of travel, the accessibility of your hotel or other accommodations, and the local weather. Try to limit the length of time spent travelling by car, train or plane as this can be exhausting and difficult for many seniors (for example, a flight to Cuba or the Bahamas is considerably shorter than a flight to Mexico or Costa Rica). Look for accommodations with ramps, paved walkways and accessible dining options, and inquire about the accessibility of amenities like outdoor pools and on-site restaurants. If your aging loved one has dietary restrictions, ask questions about on-site food options to be sure they’ll be able to eat well throughout the trip. If you’re travelling to a warm-weather destination, ask about air conditioning and other in-room comforts—extreme heat can be difficult for seniors, but an air-conditioned room, a good sunhat and an outdoor pool go a long way.
Ask for special accommodations as needed
When communicating with your hotel or resort, don’t be afraid to request special treatment—for example, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, you may want to ask for a room located on the main floor or near the elevators so your aging loved one doesn’t have to walk very far to access hotel amenities. Ask about rooms with a walk-in shower instead of a slippery bathtub that requires users to step over the edge. You may also want to request a transfer chair at the airport or priority boarding on the plane. Consider potential obstacles and tackle them ahead of time!
Build in some downtime
As much as your aging relatives will enjoy a family vacation, they will likely find it tiring. Between being in a new environment, enjoying the entertainment and navigating the busyness of daily socializing, it’s probably a lot different from their usual routine at home! To help your senior relatives stay rested and well, plan for regular downtime: a daily nap, some quiet time in the shade mid-afternoon or an early dinner followed by an early bedtime. You may want to do the same yourself! After all, no matter what age you are, vacations are for relaxing.
Thanks as always for reading. If you have any questions about in-home caregiver services in Toronto and the surrounding areas, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you and would be pleased to offer a complimentary assessment and quote for homecare services.