Traveling with senior loved ones can be a great family bonding experience that creates lasting memories for everybody. The secret to having an enjoyable trip is to properly prepare, keeping in mind the individual needs of older travelers. For a smoother, more carefree journey, plan with the following tips in mind:
- Check with Mom and Dad’s physician to get the OK for travel. Discuss relevant issues like medications, vaccinations and physical limitations.
- If your parents live in a senior living community, notify the manager of their upcoming absence. This is vital for those receiving memory support or living in an assisted living or personal care home.
- If traveling by air, arrange with the airline in advance for special services, such as wheelchairs, specific seating and advance boarding.
- Know where the nearest hospital will be once you arrive at your destination.
- Plan for distinct dietary needs. Ensure that appropriate food will be available throughout your trip, and carry snacks and nutritional supplements that may be needed.
- Pack medical documentation, i.e., Medicare and other insurance cards, as well as prescriptions.
- Give your parents a card listing your name and cell phone number in case you get separated. Be sure those with dementia have identification, and carry photos of them with you.
- Keep a daily routine. This is particularly helpful to those with cognitive impairment. Try to adhere to the same schedule for mealtime, rest time and medications.
- Allow extra time for breaks and moving from one location to another. Arrive for flights earlier than usual so your parents can go at their pace.
Dementia brings travel challenges
Traveling with elders with dementia poses unique challenges. Try to avoid evening travel as they may be more confused and agitated later in the day. Don’t let them out of your sight, but be sure that they are wearing or carrying one or more forms of ID and that you have their photo with you. (Snapping a quick photo the day of the trip will also show how they are dressed, should the need arise.) Following a few guidelines can help you connect and communicate with your family member with dementia during your trip.
If children will be traveling with you and their grandparent with serious memory loss, talk to your children about dementia, letting them know what to expect. You might want to prepare them by reading suggested children’s books about dementia or taking some along on your trip. In addition, we recommend “The Unforgettable Adventures of Grandma’s Cape,” written by Joel Kroft, Country Meadows’ executive director of memory support. To get the book for free, just stop by the front desk at any Country Meadows campus. Click here to find the location nearest you.
Our commitment to seniors and families
Country Meadows Retirement Communities has been helping families care for the needs of their senior loved ones for more than 50 years. Our mission is to help seniors lead purposeful lives and enjoy independence, friendship and respect. We achieve that with a dedicated, caring staff that offers personalized senior living services according to our residents’ needs.
If you’re interested in choosing a retirement community and are considering a Pennsylvania or Maryland retirement home, we hope you will contact us to discover more about Country Meadows. We offer independent living retirement communities and personal care and assisted living homes, as well as memory support services and restorative services. We would be glad to schedule a tour of our senior living homes for you.