Travel Tips for Family Caregivers

Travel Tips for Family Caregivers

There are countless ways to find assistance and relief from day-to-day caregiving when people seek out much needed time to care for themselves.

Plan Ahead for Travel With Seniors

This might mean hiring someone to do the lawn or making time to visit with a friend. But when it comes to much bigger caregiving responsibilities, such as traveling with a person who needs elderly home care, the logistics can be overwhelming and filled with guilt. This is especially true during high-travel times of the year, like summer or spring break.

"One of the problems with caregiving is the guilt that we feel," said Kimarie Jones, who has a daughter with special needs and is the founder of Preferred Travel Helpers. "We feel guilty that we can’t do it all. We think we are the best caregivers and it's hard for us to let go of control."

This tendency to do it all flies in the face of expert advice that caregivers need to find support for themselves or they will succumb to depression, exhaustion, burnout, or get sick. Jones founded her business to help others like her live their lives fully as they continue to care for loved ones.

"When I was on vacation, the burden of all the caregiving was all on me," she said. "It's not about giving up control, but about sharing the control."

With a trend in multi-generational travel, this means the parents – the sandwich generation – care for little ones and elderly ones while on their vacations or during spring break as well as during daily life.

"Our threshold is so low on what we need to feel rejuvenated that just one hour at a spa can be rejuvenating," Jones said with a laugh. "People need to feel they are worthy and deserve additional help for themselves."

Preferred Travel Helpers can assist with getting a loved from one place to another, or accompany a family on a trip so that someone can stay with children during naptime or handle a wheelchair. Homewatch CareGivers provides similar senior care services.

Kim Kinyonafox wasn't questioning whether or not she felt worthy of additional help when she needed to fly her 91-year-old grandmother out from Chicago to her wedding in San Jose, Calif. last year.

"Honestly, I was really, really nervous," she said of finding someone to fly with her grandmother.

She felt it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her elderly grandmother to come to the wedding, but she worried about what might happen if there was a medical emergency during the journey.

"As the bride, I could not fly there and fly back with her and then fly her back to Chicago and fly back home," Kinyonafox said.

Her grandmother did make the trip and attend the wedding with a Preferred Travel Helper.

"It was such a success that I did not worry at all about her return trip," she said.

However, it can still be a lot to handle when there is no assistance.

"When she is here with us visiting, it is hard mentally not to have her with us every second, and I have a new husband and two kids to be with too," Kinyonafox said. "I do struggle with that."

While Kinyonafox's need for additional caregiving help was for a very happy family occasion, other times caregivers need an extra pair of hands during a medical crisis. Joanie Pappalardo was not sure how she would move her father-in-law from Bethesda, Md. to Denver, Colo. Her husband suffers from brain cancer and her father-in-law, who has Alzheimer's disease, was awaiting discharge from the hospital and needed to move into an assisted living facility. Pappalardo, 59, is retired from the local school district, and has two grown children and a grandson.

"It was somewhat of a dilemma," she said of how to have her father-in-law transported to Colorado. "I could not leave my husband, and family members were not able to help. I wanted it to be a man to travel with him in case he needed help in the restroom."

With the help of a caregiver, Pappalardo's father-in-law successfully moved from Maryland to Colorado and is in a new assisted living home.

"I am still in the midst of a juggling act," she said of caring for her husband and father-in-law. "The best support is from family – it brings me comfort and helps me with the stress."

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