One of the greatest gifts you may give to your aging relatives or parents could be the gift of travel during the holidays. What better way to celebrate than by having the entire family together? If, however, your parents are elderly, travel could be problematic if not carefully planned for.
Regardless of whether you decide to travel with your aging parents or send them plane or train tickets, here are some items to keep in mind to make the travel more enjoyable:
- Prior planning is crucial to success. While you may be able to dash to an airport, purchase tickets and fly out on the Red Eye, you don’t want to put your parents in the position of having to rush. Whether they’re going to be traveling by plane, train, bus or even a cruise you will want to research the quickest, most direct travel routes. Make certain your parents have all of the required documentation needed for travel; this includes tickets, passports or drivers license or other forms of photo id well in advance of the trip. Don’t forget to have your parents make copies of all documentation to leave at home in case something gets lost on the trip. Don’t forget too, that they should bring insurance cards along with them.
- If your parents have any mobility issues you will want to request seating in rows that have been designated for those with disabilities (ie in a wheelchair, using a walker or even a cane). Make certain you request the free wheelchair service that is available at every airport. You will need to make a reservation for this service prior to flight departure or there is no guarantee it will be available.
- If you’re dealing with aging relatives that have mobility issues, you will want to help them pack light. For their carry-on bag, try packing in a smaller bag that will fit beneath their seat so they don’t have to worry about reaching and lifting. This bag should contain their medications or other necessary items. Avoid packing any necessary items in checked luggage as if the bags get lost you don’t want to have to fret about finding a pharmacy and trying to get in touch with your physician to call in a prescription while you’re traveling.
- Safety and security should be at the forefront of your planning. Don’t let your relatives become the victims of a robbery while they’re traveling. The elderly are naturally more of a target for thieves as they are an easier mark. Make certain they aren’t carrying large amounts of cash, you can certainly arrange for a trip to the bank for more cash once they arrive. Have your dad put his wallet in a front pocket and have mom put her wallet on a cord around her neck or in an inside jacket pocket.
- Be at the airport to greet them when they step off the plane. Make sure the vehicle you’ve brought with you can accommodate them, their luggage and any mobility devices they may need. If your relatives are traveling alone and have layovers, arrange for telephone contact with them at the layovers to make certain everything is going as planned. If you are having your relatives coming to visit you and are not the usual caregiver you will want to talk to whomever is their usual caregiver and get an idea of their routines, favorite foods, medication schedules and anything else that they may need while they’re at your home.
Don’t forget, if your aging relatives use a emergency medical alert device at home, they can bring both their personal medical device with them when they’re traveling. A phone call to the medical alert provider service will assure it has updated address information in the event of a medical emergency. Consider, too if your relatives are coming to your home and are unfamiliar with it, having access to their medical alert device may offer peace of mind for all involved.