The holidays are here again, and for a lot of us, that means visiting family and friends. Traveling over the holidays has always been a favorite pastime for Americans, whether your tradition is to visit distant relatives, or to see friends that you only get to see once a year. However, if you travel over the holidays, you could be questioning your travel plans if you have a loved one recovering from illness or injury or an older parent that struggles with age-related issues like mobility. But that doesn’t mean you need to cancel your plans. With the right preparations, you can help your loved one enjoy a relaxing, worry-free holiday season. Here’s a few tips for traveling with an aging loved one during the holidays
Get approval from your doctor. First and foremost, consult with your loved one’s primary care physician to ensure that your loved one is cleared for travel. Talk with their doctor or your Nurses & Company care team about any concerns or risks in traveling. Use this opportunity to make sure that your loved one is up-to-date on all vaccinations and has refills to any prescriptions.
Pack wisely, with essential items easily accessible. Make sure to have all the essentials handy—this includes medication (and copies of prescriptions), water and snacks, emergency phone numbers, and important documentation (passport, Medicare card, and travel insurance). If you are flying, be sure to bring any pertinent medications on board.
Arrange special services and assistance ahead of time. If you are planning on flying, contact the airline ahead of time and request wheelchair access at the airport, advanced boarding, or disabled seating if necessary. You can do this for hotels, rental cars, and even other activities such as plays or concerts as well. Planning all of this in advance will allow for ease and enjoyment while traveling.
Be flexible. Plan for plenty of breaks and lots of downtime to accommodate your loved one’s needs. Be realistic and patient about how much activity they can do and adjust your plans to their capabilities. Don’t stress if you can’t get everything done that you had planned; just enjoy the time you have together.
Take extra environmental precautions. If you’re traveling somewhere warm or will be spending a lot of time in the sun, be sure to pack lots of sunscreen, loose fitting clothing, hats, and water. Also, make sure you know the signs of heatstroke. The elderly and those with chronic illness are especially vulnerable to heatstroke and often are unaware they are having issues.
If you’re traveling to a cold climate, make sure to pack thermal bottoms and tops. Prepare to dress in layers; bring a warm head covering and boots that are non-slip, warm and weatherproof. Make sure your loved one’s outerwear is moisture resistant and don’t forget sunscreen – even in cold climates. Consider how long any exposure to cold temperatures will be. The longer the exposure, the warmer your loved one should dress. Don’t forget to bring appropriate accessories like gloves and a scarf.
Again, be realistic about the activities your loved one can do and adjust your plans to their capabilities.
Have fun! Don’t forget that even with all the planning and arrangements, you’re still on a holiday vacation. Enjoy this special time with your loved one; take pictures and create lasting memories.
Planning can help ensure your holiday travels are a rewarding experience for everyone involved. After all, you’re going to enjoy a family tradition with someone you love and care for. Nurses & Company can offer more specific help and recommendations for those under our care. Our team of professionals offers a vast range of expert guidance and support. Call us at 636.926.3722 for more information.