Aging adults often spend an increasing amount of time in their homes. It’s harder to get out and about even for errands, and there are sometimes fewer and fewer reasons to leave the house at all as they grow older. Travel with family and friends are great ways to get aging adults out of the house and to help them live full lives, even later in life. But to comfortably travel with an aging adult isn’t as straightforward as loading kids into a minivan and hitting the road.
Are you planning to travel with an aging adult loved one? Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you map out your journey.
1. Plan in Advance
It’s hard to do a last-minute trip with an aging adult. So try to plan as far in advance as possible, whether you’re planning to travel by car, plane or some other mode of transportation.
What type of planning should you focus on? Start by talking to the aging adult’s healthcare provider. Confirm that your aging loved one is capable of traveling, and ask if there is anything special that you need to take or look out for during travel, especially if you loved one may be showing early signs of dementia.
Also, plan ahead for mobility concerns (ensuring there’s a wheelchair waiting upon a plane’s arrival, for example), and make sure the seat on an airplane and the room in a hotel are appropriate for an aging adult.
2. Lighten the Load
No matter how energetic and seemingly strong an aging adult is, it’s difficult for him or her to lug around a suitcase. Consider packing an aging adult’s things in an easy-to-move roller bag. Pack lightly whenever possible. And, finally, carry heavier items yourself if you see any signs of strain in your aging loved one.
Most aging adults are reluctant to tell friends and family when they are running low on strength or energy. They’d rather demonstrate that they can “keep up” with everyone else. Asking an aging adult to carry a heavy load can lead to accidents, injuries and adverse health events — so don’t ask them to.
3. Take Extra Care With Medications
You need to be deliberate at every stage when you travel with an aging adult, but no part of travel planning deserves more care and attention than packing medication.
Review all of your loved one’s medications well before departure. Make sure you have enough to last the duration of the trip and even a bit longer. Also, it’s OK to contact a physician for more of a specific prescription if it’s running low.
Finally, be sure to keep prescriptions in the bottles they came in when traveling internationally. This prevents questions while navigating through security and customs. Pack prescriptions in a carry-on, too, just in case a checked bag gets lost. And consider taking along copies of prescriptions so that you have them if and when you need refills in a different city.
4. Engage in Senior-Friendly Activities
When you’re planning to travel with an aging adult, you face 2 great challenges: 1) your loved one becoming tired, and 2) your loved one becoming bored.
Be sure to ask your aging loved one what he or she is most interested in. Plan activities that cater to an aging adult’s interests and desires. Set a flexible schedule that keeps you from rushing around. And always stay in close communication about how the aging adult is feeling, both energy- and interest-wise.
5. Communicate Constantly
This is the most important thing to do when you travel with an aging adult: communicate constantly. Again, as noted above, aging adults like to show that they can “keep up” with everyone else. When they get tired or bored, they often try to push through for fear of becoming a burden.
Don’t let this happen. Make sure your aging loved one knows that he or she is never a burden, and ask regularly (within reason) about how your loved one is feeling. If an aging adult is tired, take a break. If an aging adult is bored, change things up.
Get Support When Caring for an Aging Loved One
Caring for an aging loved one can present challenges that many adult children have difficult overcoming. At First in Care, we serve aging adults and families in Bradenton and throughout Manatee County with home health services that help seniors live life to the fullest. Get the support you and your aging loved one need when you contact us at www.FirstinCare.com.