How to Travel with Seniors

June 21, 2022

Traveling with family is highly beneficial for seniors; it offers them a way to participate in fun activities and spend valuable time with their loved ones. In addition, during these trips, the senior is mentally engaged, which can help with keeping his or her mind sharp. Furthermore, traveling can also improve the emotional and physical well-being of a senior.

Tips for Traveling With Seniors

The key to making traveling with elderly parents easier is correct preparation, which means planning around the needs of the elderly loved one.

Create a Detailed List

One of the ways to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a problem while traveling with elderly parents is to create a detailed list that outlines everything they require for the trip. By creating the list at least two weeks in advance, the individual planning the trip can review the list periodically to make sure that nothing is being overlooked.

Consult With His or Her Primary Care Physician

Once a destination and mode of transportation is decided upon, but before beginning to prepare for a trip with an elderly loved one, it is essential to speak with his or her primary care physician.

Some questions to ask include:

  1. Are there any vaccinations that the senior should have before traveling to the potential destination?
  2. Is the destination appropriate for the senior? Can the senior participate in the planned activities despite his or her limitations?
  3. Are there any medications that the physician can prescribe for the senior to alleviate anxiety?
  4. What about supplements or medications to address behavioral issues?
  5. Are there any additional suggestions that the physician can offer to help with the preparation process?
  6. Is there anything about the senior traveling that the doctor has concerns about?
  7. Ask about filling the elderly loved one’s medications before leaving.

For Safety’s Sake

Just in case an emergency arises, whenever a senior loved one is out, he or she must have basic medical information available.

Pertinent information includes:

  • His or her physician’s name, phone number, and address.
  • A list of his or her prescriptions.
  • Medical insurance information.
  • A list of his or her chronic conditions (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease).

If applicable, while traveling, the caregiver must have a copy of the medical power of attorney available.

Choose Senior-friendly Accommodations

When choosing a place to stay, keep in mind that there are physical aspects of the hotel that need to be present to ensure a senior’s safety.

Amenities to look for include:

  • Railings near the bathtub.
  • A walk-in, step-less shower.
  • A shower chair.
  • The telephone and alarm clock are designed for individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf.

For seniors who use wheelchairs, there must be:

  • A wheelchair accessible room.
  • Wider doorways.
  • A wheelchair lift.

Avoid unnecessary stress (e.g., an all-night party in the room next door) by picking a place to stay that is specifically designed for families.

Packing for the Trip

Whether flying, taking a train or driving, it is vital to have all the essentials an elderly loved one may need on hand. Packing essentials away in checked luggage means that he or she cannot access these items until reclaiming the baggage upon reaching the destination, or, if his or her luggage is lost, until they are found.

Essentials include:

  • Medications.
  • Supportive stockings for elderly loved ones who do not have vascular disease and will be sitting for an extended length of time.
  • A new set of clothes.
  • Incontinence supplies.
  • Snacks.
  • Water.

Please keep in mind that there are restrictions associated with carrying certain items on board a plane (e.g., fluids), and possibly a train. Therefore, make sure to check the restrictions for the chosen mode of transportation before packing a carry-on bag. Typically, when passengers are not permitted to bring beverages and snacks on a plane or train, they can purchase these items.

Mode of Transportation

By car:

  • Individuals traveling with seniors that have limited mobility must choose a larger model car. A minivan is much more accessible than a two-door car. A minivan has room to accommodate someone traveling with medical equipment (e.g., a portable oxygen concentrator, a supplemental oxygen tank) and mobility aids (e.g., a walker, a cane or a wheelchair).

By plane or train:

  • When making reservations, ask for seats that are designated for individuals with disabilities. In addition, request assistance getting on and off the plane or train, as well as while navigating the airport or train station.
  • If food is available, be sure to inform the reservation system of any special dietary needs.
  • Make sure the airplane or the train allows and can accommodate, the senior’s needs in relation to medical equipment.
  • Traveling with elderly parents may require extra boarding time
  • Travel for seniors with limited mobility can be challenging, especially at an airport or train station.
  • Even when a senior has a wheelchair, using the airport’s wheelchair is better because these chairs are designed to fit within the aisle.
  • Avoid exiting the plane until the wheelchair arrives. Exiting beforehand requires that the senior stand while waiting for the airport’s wheelchair to arrive. This can be painful and, if balance problems are present, dangerous.

Discuss Upcoming Activities

Be sure to discuss the day’s activities ahead of time. However, avoid providing unnecessary information. For example, going over people’s names or discussing complicated directions could lead to agitation and confusion even before arriving at the destination.

Activities To Avoid

It is vital for those traveling with seniors to recognize the signs associated with anxiety. For example, when an individual becomes overwhelmed, he or she may seem irritable or confused. If these signs are present, the senior needs some time to regroup. Ease anxiety by finding a quiet location and relaxing (e.g., a secluded picnic area, a bench away from all the noise).

If you have an elderly loved one in Southern California who requires in-home care, contact Mission Healthcare at (888) 871-0766 today. Let our highly experienced and dedicated medical professionals provide your loved one with the in-home medical care he or she needs.