By Stacy Alcide RN, BSN, CCM, Certified Aging Life Care Manager
Traveling with elderly family members during the holidays can be a heartwarming experience, creating cherished memories for all generations.
However, it also requires careful planning and consideration of the unique needs and challenges that seniors may face. To ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday trip, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist covering everything from pre-trip preparations to the journey’s conclusion.
Consult with your Elderly Companion: Plan the trip with the older adults involved. Understand their preferences, limitations, and medical conditions that may affect travel.
Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers potential medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and delays. It’s a good idea to check the TSA rules to ensure a smooth flight check-in process.
Medical Checkup: As part of your travel plan, schedule a visit to the doctor to ensure that the individual is fit for the trip. Discuss any necessary medications and vaccinations, and obtain a written copy of their medical history.
Mobility Aids: If needed, arrange for mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, or portable ramps. Please make sure they are in good working condition.
Comfortable Clothing: Pack comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing for the elderly traveler. Layers are ideal for adapting to changing temperatures. Compression stockings are great for prolonged inactivity in the air or on the road.
Personal Care Items: Bring personal hygiene products, adult diapers (if necessary), and special care items.
Medication List: Create a detailed list of all prescribed medications, including dosages and schedules.
Medication Organizer: Use a pill organizer to sort medications by day and time, making it easier to keep track of doses. Ensure you have an ample supply for the entire trip, plus some extra in case of delays.
Medical Records: Remember insurance cards and any copies of healthcare directives in case of an emergency and need for medical care.
Assistive Devices: Don’t forget hearing aids, eyeglasses, and other assistive devices the older adult relies on.
Travel Documents: Ensure you have all necessary documents, including passports and ID cards.
Snacks and Hydration: Carry a supply of water and healthy snacks to stay well-nourished and hydrated during the journey.
Frequent Breaks: Plan frequent rest stops during long car trips or flights. Give the traveler a chance to stretch, walk, and use the restroom.
Medication Schedule: Adhere to the prescribed medication schedule, even during travel. Set alarms or reminders to ensure timely dosages.
Comfort and Support: Use neck pillows, blankets, and other comfort aids to ensure the traveler is as comfortable as possible.
Accommodation Accessibility: Choose accessible lodging with features like grab bars in the bathroom and ramps if needed. Contact hotels in advance to confirm wheelchair accessibility if necessary.
Ground-Floor Rooms: Request ground-floor or easily accessible rooms to avoid stairs or elevators.
Bed Preferences: Ensure the older adult has a comfortable bed and, if necessary, a suitable mattress topper.
Emergency Contacts: Share your itinerary and accommodation details with a trusted friend or family member in case of emergencies.
During the Holiday:
Plan Rest Days: Schedule rest days between outings to allow everyone to recharge.
Adapt Activities: Plan activities that cater to the person’s interests and physical capabilities.
Dietary Needs: Accommodate any dietary restrictions or preferences when dining out. Consider reviewing the menu before dining out to save time.
Traveling with seniors during the holidays can be a rewarding experience when well-planned and executed. This checklist should serve as a helpful guide to ensure their safety, comfort, and enjoyment throughout the journey. Considering their unique needs, you can create lasting memories and celebrate the holidays with peace of mind.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers and Educational Advocates provides services for families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance throughout their life span due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Our skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899/ 215-896-6756 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE). For Minor & Young Adult Life Care Management or Educational Services, call Mary Jo Siebert at 410-967-0122 or 443-318-4244.