Tis the season for holiday travel and whether you do it by plane, train or automobile, there are some tips to make traveling with your elderly parent or other aging relative. You want to make certain that when you arrive at your holiday destination that you are not so stressed out from having gotten there that it takes you days to unwind only to realize you have to make the return trip.
Family members need to not only prepare their homes for the event but they need to make certain the seniors in their lives enjoy the holidays safely and securely.
If you’re traveling by car:
- The vehicle should be checked and serviced prior to a road trip. Tell your mechanic you are heading out for a road trip and ask for a well vehicle check. Have him check your spare tire, fluid levels, air in all four tires, inspect belts for wear and other spot checks for safety.
- Carry a safety breakdown kit in your car. This kit should include (and these can be purchased at most auto parts stores or you can put one together on your own): bottled water, a thermal blanket, flag, flares or reflectors, flashlight, jumper cables, tire gauge, tow rope, non-perishable food items. Don’t forget to also pack a first aid kit and any medications you take on a regular basis.
- If you’re traveling out of your home state, check the internet for the numbers of law enforcement and highway information agencies so you are prepared in the event of an emergency. Many states offer a 411-type service for roadway travelers.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full during your trip, making frequent stops to fuel up may make the trip a bit longer but getting out to stretch your legs will keep you more alert and make the trip safer.
- Plan your travel for daytime hours. It’s easier to see road signs and in the event of an emergency it’s safer to have to pull your vehicle off the road until help arrives. If you’re unable to travel during the day, make sure your route includes well-lighted, highly traveled roadways.
- Know your limits. If you can only safely drive four or five hours a day then plan for the number of days it will take you to make the trip and don’t push yourself.
Airports, Train Stations and Hotels:
- Ask for help: If you have a relative that lives close by and can help out, enlist their assistance. If you truly are alone, make certain you ask for help in airports, train stations, bus stops and even roadside stops. If necessary you may need to hire a personal caregiver to take the trip with you.
- Keep in mind too that your aging relative might be extremely nervous about being out of his or her environment and that could lead to even more issues that will require the need for assistance
- Don’t leave home without a cell phone. Make sure it is fully charged and bring along a charger you can use in the car as well. Have family numbers programmed into the phone so it is easier to contact them if necessary. Also, don’t use the phone while you’re driving and limit all distractions. If your phone rings, pull off the side of the road when it’s safe to do so and return the phone call.
- Be on hand for the packing: Do not let your aging relative pack his or her own suitcase. You need to supervise or will likely be faced with repacking it later. Help them pack enough clothing of the right kind for the weather conditions and make certain all medications are packed along with all doctor emergency contact information.
- Stop and smell the roses, literally: Don’t be in such a rush to get to and from your destination that you don’t stop and look at landmarks, enjoy a sunset and take photographs. These photos will be cherished memories long after the trip is over.
- Pack your loved one’s medical alert system. With your at-home and on-the-go system, just let us know your new location and you’ll be covered as if you were in your own home.
We hope these tips help make your Holiday travel plans a little less stressful!