Many of us enjoy traveling to new destinations, or revisiting old places and seeing friends and family. Traveling with your aging parents, however, may cause stress for you as well as for them. Fortunately, with a little careful planning this needn’t be the case.
For the elderly, much of the stress of traveling comes from knowing that their daily routine will be broken, thinking about the many what-if situations that could occur, and dwelling on the expense of energy that they may need to expend.
Tips to make your aging parents next flight or car ride more enjoyable:
- Make sure all medications are refilled ahead of time. If possible, get travel duplicates of medications so they may be packed ahead of time.
- Plan a menu. Flights may be delayed. You may hit traffic. Be prepared with pre-made food that your mom/dad would normally eat at home. Avoid blood sugar dips by packing healthy, protein rich snacks.
- Conserve energy. If you are flying, alert the airline that you will need wheelchair assistance. Even if your mom/dad can walk, the stress of traveling will use up energy that could be conserved for enjoying the trip. The airline can provide the wheelchair. Plan ahead by booking seats close to the front of the cabin.
- Provide reassurance. If your parent has his or her memory intact you may start explaining your itinerary several weeks before your trip. Answer any questions about the schedule or the destination. Be prepared to answer the same questions again if needed.
- Provide earplugs, a pillow, and an eye mask. Too much stimulation, visual or audio, can be very taxing to someone who is used to sitting in a quiet, familiar area. Allow your mom/dad the comfort of eliminating these stressors by providing a means to escape whatever is overstimulating.
- Prepare yourself for travel. Proper planning will allow you to feel calmer and more able to focus on having positive energy during your trip. You will then be in a better place to be patient and provide additional reassurance to your aging parents during the trip.
Traveling with your aging parents can be challenging, but with a little careful planning your next trip can be low stress.