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How to Travel with Aging Parents

By Jennifer Thompson, 9:00 am on

Traveling with a senior parent is a great way to bond as a family, but you will need to prepare for your trip with special accommodations in mind. This is especially true if your loved one has special health needs that may affect comfort and safety on the trip.

If your loved one requires assistance to complete daily tasks of living, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Nashville senior care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

Use these tips while you make your travel plans so the trip goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Schedule a Pre-Trip Physical

When you know you are traveling with your parent, schedule him or her for a checkup. Let the physician know if you will be traveling out of the country or staying in a new climate such as in a high elevation area. The physician can check for developing health conditions that may be impacted or recommend vaccinations to keep your parent healthy.

2. Reserve Special Services

Most airlines offer accommodations for people with disabilities such as special seating for those with wheelchairs or assistance getting through the airport. However, you will need to let the airline know ahead of time so their staff is available to provide assistance.

3. Pack Medications Properly

At the airport, you will need to get your parent’s medications through the airport security line. Check the security guidelines and follow them completely. Keep prescription medications in the original containers and place them in a plastic bag. Carry documentation of the medications such as prescriptions and physician notes with you in your carry-on.

4. Create an Essentials Bag

Most travel options will allow you to carry a small bag that holds the things your loved one needs to stay comfortable. In addition to medications, bring along light snacks, entertaining activities, and a change of clothing if your loved one experiences incontinence. This allows you to quickly tend to your loved one’s needs even if you are en route to the destination.

5. Strive to Maintain a Similar Schedule

Travel usually throws people slightly off schedule, but it is important to try to maintain a normal routine. Set alarms to remind your loved one to take his or her medication, and try to eat at the same time he or she does when at home. If possible, arrange for transportation so your loved one gets to bed and wakes up at the same time each day. This can help keep your loved one in a good mood and make transitioning back to normal life easier when you return home.

6. Bring Assistance

For seniors with serious health issues such as dementia, traveling can pose even more challenges. Having another caregiver allows you to take brief breaks for respite while knowing your loved one is safe. It is also important to have two sets of eyes to prevent wandering. For example, a caregiver can keep an eye on your parent while you run to the bathroom or check in at the airport.

Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite home care. Nashville families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation.

7. Carry Additional Identification

Your loved one should always carry personal identification and medical information in case of an emergency. Store your loved one’s personal information in his or her smartphone in case he or she is unable to communicate. Carry a picture of your loved one in case you get separated. Doubling up on identification provides extra reassurance that responders can help your loved one if he or she gets lost or if a sudden medical problem arises.

Carrying additional identification becomes even more important especially if your loved one has a medical condition such as dementia. Many families have no experience in specialized home care for seniors, which can make life a bit more challenging when an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Nashville, TN, dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. We designed a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally engaging activities to slow the progression of dementia, and all of our live-in and respite caregivers are expertly trained in dementia care. Call (615) 656-4999 to speak with a Care Manager and learn more about our senior care services.