Have you decided that it might be great to take dad out on one great last road trip for the year? Many couples consider taking a road-trip during the holidays instead of hosting the celebrations in their home. It is a great way to make new and lasting memories that you’ll treasure for quite some time. However, traveling with seniors can present very unique challenges that should be taken into consideration and planned for. A road trip, if cleared by a doctor can be a great experience that is cherished by everyone involved. Sometimes, people just need to get away from their everyday lives and forget about their worries. Vacations can be something that enriches you and your aging parent physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are 5 great precautions and planning tips that will help you make your experience smoother and more memorable.
1. Medical Blessings and Clearance
It may go without saying, but when you start planning your road trip, the first step is to get medical clearance. There are many circumstances and situations where a physician won’t clear your loved one to travel, and you shouldn’t try to take a road trip with any senior who has medical issues without consulting their physician. The physician may offer considerations and assistance when it comes to preparation for their travel as well, so it is well worth the visit. Bring a broad itinerary, and make sure the physician understands the scope and distance involved in the travel so they can make an informed decision or provide insight.
2. Senior-Friendly Accommodations
From hotels, to flights, and even restaurants, be sure to ask for senior-friendly accommodations. You can call ahead on your route and see what accommodations are available to help make seniors more comfortable during your visit there. Hotels can help by putting you and your loved one in rooms that are on the bottom floor, close to amenities, and ensure that if you are getting separate rooms, that they are right next door to each other. If you have any other accommodations that you’ll need, such as wheelchair accessibility, make sure you mention this to car rental businesses or the hotel.
3. Extra Time and Extra Fun
When you are traveling with a loved one that you are caring for, you’ll want to give yourself some extra time to get from one place to another. You may need to stop a few extra times for bathroom breaks, or to take medications with food. If you pad your travel time, then extra stops won’t put you behind schedule, and it will make everyone much more relaxed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends ensuring that you make sure there is a stop every 2 hours just to keep joints and muscles engaged and moving. The last thing you need is blood clots that are due to lack of movement.
The other thing about adding extra time into your schedule is that if you and your loved one see a side-stop or extra attraction you want to spontaneously add to your trip, you have extra time to do it. Don’t be afraid to do the extra fun things, these memories are worth the time.
4. Medications and Necessities
Make sure that medications, insurance cards, ID, and medical records that document any treatments or conditions are packed, just in case of emergency. We recommend at least an extra week of medications just in case there is a delay coming back for any reason. If you are traveling across time zones, you may need to adjust when medications are taken, you can always set a timer or keep a watch set to your home time so that the schedule is interrupted as little as possible. You may also seek out advice from a professional caregiver to help you continue any therapeutic care that is happening at home.
5. Time to Adjust
We’ve all woken up in a different place and been a little disoriented for a moment until we remember where we are. Your aging parent may need time to adjust to changes to their routine while you take your trip. If you have a loved one who is living with dementia, they may easily get overstimulated or stressed in a new environment. Stay flexible with your plans but stick to a strict meal and medication schedule. Keep bedtimes, wake-up times, nap times, and bathroom times as close as possible to their home schedule as well. Something else that helps is bringing familiar blankets, games, or tv-shows with you so that your loved one has less adjustments to make.
Homewatch CareGivers of Woodbridge is always here for you and your loved one. We can provide you with support in the home, for a few hours, or even assist you with planning a big holiday trip. Contact us a call today to learn more about what options you have.