The holiday season is beginning to wind down, but there are still many opportunities ahead to travel with elderly loved ones. Traveling with a senior brings with it additional considerations, so we assembled some of the most important ones here to share with your family and friends. Read on to learn handy tips for traveling (by air or car) with the older loved ones in your life!
- Medication management. This might be the most important consideration when traveling with a senior (or caring for a senior who is traveling alone). It seems that almost everyone over the age of 55 is on some sort of medicine, and it’s important not to lose track of a medication schedule when traveling. Some of the tasks to consider are 1) getting a doctor’s clearance if necessary, 2) getting prescriptions filled for the duration of a trip, and 3) whether additional vaccinations are necessary depending on location. Even small things such as whether medication needs to go through a security checkpoint matter - is it a liquid?
- The TSA. Speaking of everyone’s favorite government program, if you are flying with a senior, it’s wise to plan ahead for the security line. Consider whether your loved one has any medical implants or devices that might cause problems in the body scanner or during a pat down, and let security personnel know. If a wheelchair is required for transport, this may mean going through a metal detector instead, and possibly additional screening. And as mentioned above, consider whether critical medication needs to be in checked luggage or can be carried on.
- Personal security. When traveling, seniors (and others!) might be easy targets for pickpockets and other types of petty crime. Ways to mitigate this are traveling with only a minimum amount of cash and/or identification, and wearing a billfold inside of clothing rather than in a back pocket. Of course, a watchful eye is the best prevention.
- Keeping a routine. This can be incredibly important for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, especially while traveling. Sticking with the same sort of routine (even in a different place) can help with expectation management and relieve some anxiety, fear, and stress (for everyone involved). Consider keeping bedtimes, medication times, and mealtimes as close as possible to what happens in your senior’s regular setting.
- Communication plan. Coordinating pick up, transport, and drop off for a senior traveling alone warrants a little extra attention. Make sure to have a plan to ensure that they are in the right place at the right time, and make sure that they have a reliable mode of communication in case things change.
Traveling is a two-sided coin: it usually takes you somewhere you want to be, but it can also be fraught with stress, change, and anxiety...especially so for seniors who may not be used to traveling often or alone. By incorporating these tips into your family’s travel plans, you’ll ensure that the elderly loved ones in your life are taken care of for the duration of their travel experience. To learn more handy tips, tricks, and lifestyle hacks for seniors, please visit the Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses blog, or contact us to see how we can help your family!