If you are planning a trip with an older loved one this summer, you’re probably building a checklist to make sure everything goes smoothly. While transportation, accommodations and what to do once you get there are probably at the top of your mind, don’t over-look the details that can make travel difficult for seniors — especially those with mobility issues or chronic conditions.
If you and your older loved one are traveling abroad, don’t forget to make sure your passports are in order.
You’ll also want to make sure both of you are up-to-date on your vaccinations. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (cdc.gov/travel) for alerts, advisories and recommendations for vaccinations based on your destination. Note that some shots need to be taken well in advance of your journey, so plan ahead.
While your loved one is at the doctor’s office for vaccinations, ask if there are any other precautions you should take when traveling with the older adult in your care. If you’re crossing time zones, the doctor may recommend that your loved one change the time he or she takes medications. Depending where in the world you are going, the doctor may have recommendations for foods to avoid because of potential negative interaction with medications.
While you’re away, you’ll also want to be prepared for emergencies. Pack any first aid items or medical devices you’ll need. Also make sure you have a list of all your loved one’s medical conditions and how they are treated. If your loved one has heart issues, bring a copy of the cardiogram to avoid having a potentially life-threatening situation treated as travel fatigue.
Bring along the names of any prescribed medications, including the dosage. It’s best to bring a complete supply of necessary medications so you don’t have to fill any prescriptions while on the road. Be sure to keep medications in their original containers or you’ll have a hard time passing through airport security.
TAKE CARE WHILE FLYING
If your loved one has special dietary needs, make sure you mention these when you book your flight. If you’ll need wheelchair assistance or special accommodations on the plane, you should mention that at the time of booking as well. In flight, make sure your loved one stays hydrated. Airplanes tend to be dry, and dehydration can cause confusion and other medical issues in older adults.
If the flight is long or your loved one has circulation issues, be sure he or she wears compression socks to protect against deep vein thrombosis. Stretching frequently — even just periodically flexing the ankles — can also help your loved one avoid dangerous blood clots caused by immobility (this advice applies to you, too).
When you arrive at your destination, you and your loved one may want to sit back and let the other passengers debark first. You’ll avoid the jostling crowd of travelers rushing to get off the plane. You’ll also have the undivided attention of flight attendants, who can assist you in unloading carry-ons and helping your loved one out of his or her seat or maneuvering a wheelchair.