Vacationing with Seniors
Late spring and summer are times when families often embark on vacation together. For some families, this year’s travel plans may include an older loved one. These trips are a great way to build bonds among the generations and create memories that will last a lifetime, but traveling with a senior family member may require making a few accommodations.
Planning for an Intergenerational Road Trip
To help make certain your intergenerational summer vacation will go more smoothly, here are a few tips:
Consider Special Needs: Summer vacations often require travelers to spend a lot of time riding in a car or walking around at an attraction. Both can present unique challenges for older adults. For example, walking on hot, humid summer days to visit the national monuments in Washington, DC may not be all that difficult for younger people; but for seniors, especially those with chronic health conditions, it may be a struggle. Just as riding in a car for long distances without stopping can be hard for someone with health problems such as arthritis. Be sure you take your loved one’s special needs into consideration as you are putting together your itinerary. You may need to plan frequent rest stops and utilize taxis or public transportation more than you would if your family was making the trip alone.
Create an Online Medical File: Another tip is to use an app or website to create a medical file for your older family member. CareZone and MyMedical are two that may be of help. These types of programs allow you to safely store medical files ranging from a medication list and medical history to physician phone numbers. In the event of an emergency, you can use your smartphone to quickly access this important information.
Be Prepared to Communicate: If the older adult who will be traveling with you has a cognitive impairment, be prepared to swiftly and discreetly communicate that to others. Airport security may be especially frightening and confusing for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. You might find it helpful to create a card with a short description of your situation that you can quickly hand to people you need to communicate with along your journey.
Do Your Research: You may want to call ahead and speak with the hotel manager to see if they can connect you with respite-style caregivers who can stay with your loved one in the hotel while your family is out. That will allow your kids to enjoy some of the activities they are interested in that might not be suitable for older adults.
If you need help deciding upon a travel destination that would be of interest to all three generations of your family, the Road Scholar site can help. Formerly known as Elderhostel, they have suggestions that range from aviation and space to the rainforest.