Traveling with an elderly parent may require a bit more in the way of planning, but it can be done. Take the extra steps and you are likely to be rewarded with an experience that you will never forget. Whether traveling with a parent or grandparent, the memories that you will make, and the experiences that you will share, will more than make up for any additional hurdles or difficulties that may need to be overcome. Here are some helpful tips if you are looking to travel with an elderly parent in the near future.
If Flying, Book a Non-Stop Flight
One thing to consider when traveling with an elderly parent is that their mobility will be somewhat limited (even if your parents or grandparents are in generally good shape for their age). Help them by booking a non-stop flight; this will prevent them from having to walk from gate to gate, terminal to terminal, as you disembark to catch your connecting flight. It will also set their mind at ease, as they won’t have to worry about being a burden on you or potentially causing you to miss your flight.
Consider Traveling First Class…
Yes, it will cost more money, but for the comfort and ease that it provides, it might just be worth it. Your elderly parent or grandparent will have more leg room, a more comfortable seat, better service, and better food, among other things. And then there are the many senior citizen amenities that you may not have considered. This includes wheelchair service, available electric carts, gate-to-gate service (if you have a connecting flight and a need for assistance), and expedited boarding. Consider all of your options, and do what you can to make the experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible for your loved one.
…Or Drive Instead!
Of course, if you aren’t traveling far, you may want to consider driving instead of flying. There are many benefits to driving over flying, not the least of which is that you don’t have to worry about passing through security or being locked inside a metal tube for hours on end. Simply by taking a car, you can set the schedule, dictate the pace, make stops along the way, and even do some sightseeing during the journey. When you fly, you endure a couple of hours of discomfort for the convenience of traversing large distances in a short period of time, but the journey itself is hardly memorable – or fun. When you drive, the journey can be as worthwhile as the destination.
Think about Safety
Remember to consider your loved one’s health and safety when traveling. Bring any medications that your parent or grandparent might need during the trip – including any that you might need on the plane or in the car – along with snacks and water, and consider getting a medical alert system like GreatCall’sLively Mobile, so that you can have peace of mind when you’re not with them. Worn around the neck or on clothing, these devices go wherever your loved ones go, meaning they are never out of reach. In the event of a fall or medical emergency, they can seek assistance even if they’re all alone (for example, while in the shower or a public restroom).
Travel During the Right Time of Day
Travel when it will be most convenient for your loved one. Consider traveling in the middle of the day, rather than in the early morning or late at night. The elderly generally have a harder time falling and staying asleep, which is one of the reasons that they nap more regularly than younger adults. For this reason, try to accommodate their normal sleeping schedule when booking your trip (or starting your road journey). It will help them maintain their sleeping routine and ensure that they have more energy when you arrive at your destination.
Plan Activities Sparingly
Believe it or not, just 150 minutes of moderate to leisurely physical activity per week is considered a healthy workout regimen for individuals over 65 years of age. Take this into account when planning activities and putting together an itinerary. Though you may have the energy, stamina, and drive to walk all over New York City or traipse across Paris, your elderly parents do not. Take taxis and trains instead of walking, and be sure to include numerous breaks in your daily schedule so that your loved one can rest.
Consider a Cruise
If the destination is less important than the journey, consider taking a cruise. Food and accommodations are provided, there’s likely to be other seniors on board that your parents can chat with, and there’s a relaxing bed available at a moment’s notice. Cruises are even more convenient if you live within driving distance of a city that offers one, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, New York, or Boston. In this case, you’d never need to step foot on an airplane. At the end of the day, cruises are a perfect option for elderly travelers because they let them do as much or as little as they want to.