The holiday season is more than just a time for delicious food, warm fires and extravagant decorations - it's also a time to spend with family members. For some, this can be as simple as hosting a family get-together at someone's home, but some seniors and their caregivers may find themselves cities or even states apart from their loved ones. Travel is often a part of many people's holiday plans, though traveling with seniors can add an extra layer of complication. If you're a caregiver making travel plans for you and your senior loved one, here are a few tips to help reduce holiday stress.
Find out if travel is permitted
Before you book your flight or making equivalent travel plans, it's a necessary step to first make sure that your loved one is capable of and medically permitted to hit the road in the first place. According to AgingCare, the first step when making holiday travel plans is to consult with your relative's doctor. He or she may want to give your loved one a quick exam to make sure that he or she is physically and cognitively able to weather the stress associated with long drives or treks through airports.
Plan ahead at each step
Are you going to be spending hours on end in a car, or navigating airport terminals lugging baggage and trying to make connecting flights? You should know your travel plans as far ahead of time as possible. This will give you the chance to determine which, if any, special services or accommodations you may need to pre-plan to make the process safer and more comfortable for your senior. For example, it may be a good idea to call your airline prior to your departure date so you can ensure staff will be waiting for you and your relative with a wheelchair or motorized scooter, if needed. If you're traveling by car instead of by plane, make sure you have a vehicle big enough to accommodate all your luggage as well as provide your relative with sufficient leg- and headroom - this may mean a trip to the rental car office.
Pay special attention to medical needs
One of the most important aspects of proper senior care, especially in instances where the individual is living with a chronic condition, is creating and maintaining a consistent care schedule. This includes things like medication times, daily therapy or any other doctor-prescribed treatments. None of this should go out the window just because of the potential chaos associated with traveling. Especially when it comes to managing medication, you'll want to be as on-top of the situation as possible. A blogger writing for The New York Times recommended bringing enough medication to last the duration of the trip, and then extra, just in case you experience travel delays or a dose is lost. Additionally, the source also recommended bringing the contact information for your relative's doctor's office, pharmacy and any other essential medical services in the case of emergency.
Keep expectations realistic
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that your capabilities when it comes to travel will likely be different from those of your senior loved one. As his or her caregiver, you should plan the travel schedule accordingly. You should do your best to avoid an itinerary with tightly scheduled connecting flights, for example, since seniors will likely have a great deal more trouble running through a busy airport than you would. Similarly, rather than trying to force a 10-hour drive in one day, it may be better to break the trip up into smaller chunks so your relative isn't stuck sitting in a car for hours on end.