Many adults who are involved in overseeing the care of a senior parent or loved one can attest that the details involved in the day-to-day and immediate future can be consuming. As such, it's no wonder that the idea of introducing travel plans and arrangements into a set care schedule can be overwhelming.
However, if the senior in your life loved to travel before he or she reached a certain age, chances are this may still be something they would like to do. The benefits of travel on the soul do not disappear as we grow older. In fact, there are many instances where travel has proven to be extremely beneficial for seniors, adding excitement, something to look forward to and an overall new perspective on living.
In addition, helping your senior loved one recognize the dream of travel into a reality is a priceless gift.
We've prepared a short to-do list that can help you prepare for any upcoming spring break travelling plans with your senior loved ones. Following these simple tips can ensure your travel is as smooth as possible for both yourself and your senior travel companion.
Consult with a doctor and primary caregiver
When seniors have special health care needs, their primary caregivers are often the most up-to-date in terms of their everyday medical routines. Not only will they be able to inform you about the necessary medications to pack, but there are a number of other concerns they can address, as well.
On top of their basic medicinal needs, primary caregivers will know if your loved one needs any special vaccinations before travelling as well as how to cater to any unique limitations they may have. It's also important to consider the mental health of seniors when preparing for a trip, whether it's a weekend trip or a month-long getaway. Primary physicians know how to address a patient's potential for heightened anxiety and treat it in the most effective way possible.
Safe, healthy and enjoyable travel requires strong organization -- especially when you're an older adult. We all know how frustrating it is when you board the plane, settle into your seat and realize you've packed something essential away into your luggage.
When you're travelling with seniors, it's important to avoid this dilemma. Help them pack their luggage and carry-ons well in advance to ensure they always have their essential items close at hand. These items may include medications, light snacks, warm items of clothing and basic medical records.
If you're travelling by plane, it's also a good idea to pack carry-on items like compression stockings to prevent blood clots and numbness. Again, talk openly with your senior travel companion to assess their unique needs.
Prepare a routine
A certain level of routine is important for any globetrotter, no matter the age, but as we get older, the potential confusion that comes with being in a brand new environment increases. Luckily, this sense of confusion can easily be transformed into enjoyment with a routine aimed at curbing stress and anxiety.
This routine does not need to be strict or complicated, but it's important for seniors to know what to expect throughout each day. In terms of timing, a schedule that echoes their home routine will support their overall health, sleep and well being throughout the trip. The need for a consistent schedule is even more important when travelling with someone with dementia or Alzheimer's who may become disoriented more easily.
Research your destination
Not all travel destinations are equal when it comes to medical facilities and caregiving services. If you're travelling to an area you're completely unfamiliar with, take a little time to do some research beforehand.
When you're scanning the area, some things you want to look out for are nearby hospitals, care centres, walk-ins and pharmacies. Again, if your travel partner has unique needs such as mental health issues or the need for specialized services, ensure that those are available in case of an emergency.
It's also important to research how the particular destination you're travelling to deals with healthcare for non-citizens - that way you're covered no matter what arises.
Communication with your senior travel companions is key -- before, during and after your vacation. Before you depart, it's necessary to communicate openly and honestly about needs, restrictions and desires. This will help you and your loved one create a travel plan that ensures you both have the best vacation possible.
Keep the communication going throughout your trip. Consistently check in with the seniors you're travelling with to make sure they're happy, comfortable and calm. Before you start each day, let your travel companions know what's on the schedule and what they can expect. This way they'll have time to prepare any additional supplies they might need and get in the right headspace too.
When you return from your trip, debrief with your travel partner. Check in to see what they liked and disliked about the trip, what could have made it more comfortable for them, and whether their systems are adjusting properly to being back home.
Travelling with seniors certainly takes a little more time and thoughtfulness. But if you put in the effort, the reward that comes from an incredible trip with friends and family makes it all worth it.
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