Traveling With Seniors: Tips To Make Vacations Fun And Comfortable For Your Loved One

Traveling on road trips with seniors can be a fun drive down memory lane filled with a bevy of unforgettable moments. While the challenges of planning and packing for a drive may seem like a vast undertaking, some forward thinking can make any adventure a leisurely endeavor.  

As schedules open up for spring and summer, family road trips with kids and grandkids become even more popular, and including grandma and grandpa in that bonding time is important. Before any trip planning can begin, it’s important to consult a doctor regarding your senior’s ability to travel. Discuss what type of accommodations need to be made and determine if certain activities such as extreme outdoor excursions are off limits.

Whether you’re undergoing a long road trip or just trying to make a car ride to the grocery store or local restaurant a little more comfortable, be sure to plan for the unexpected.

Before hitting the road, review what needs to be packed. Regardless of the length of the trip, it’s always important to make sure the needs of your senior are accessible within the car.

  • Pack additional medicine and supplies. Plans can change, and it never hurts to bring along extra medication. Prescriptions should be in their original containers and placed in an easy-to-carry bag. You should be able to access this bag ASAP, so don’t stow it in the trunk.  
  • Buy over-the-counter medication beforehand. Instead of buying non-prescription medicine at your destination when you need it, think ahead and have it ready to go in your bag. These can be helpful in combating any issues that may arise in your loved one’s traveling diet and schedule.
  • Bring medical information. Identification and medical information can be key in emergency situations. Have all documentation close at hand to cut down on wasted time and confusion. Be sure to include contact information for their Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care community and any physicians or nursing care contacts, any health conditions your loved one may have and insurance details.
  • Rent equipment. Research your final destination and see if walkers, wheelchairs and other accessories can be rented there. If so, you may not have to pack all of your senior’s accessories.
  • Bring comforting and familiar items. Ease anxiety and create a comfortable environment while on the road with familiar blankets, pillows, snacks and drinks.

It’s important that your senior enjoy the car ride as much as you do, so don’t overlook the type of car you rent. An SUV or crossover with ample space can be more accommodating than a sedan that seats four. Vehicles with larger trunk space can help store walkers, canes, oxygen tanks and other equipment. While your mode of transportation may have more personal space for passengers, it still could be difficult for your loved one to get in and out. That’s where you might want to consider handle assists and other car accessories designed to help seniors feel as independent as possible.

The journey can be just as important as the destination, so plan out your routes and stops ahead of time.

  • Stop frequently. Plan to take plenty of breaks and make several stops to stretch. Traveling at a slower pace can create a ride that is more comfortable and also gives you some time to reflect while on your trip.
  • Bring along entertainment. With your loved one now likely traveling in the backseat, it’s important to make sure you provide them with ways to keep busy while you drive. A deck of cards opens the opportunity for a host of games that can be played alone or with grandkids and other passengers.
  • Build a familiar schedule. Creating a schedule that mimics the one your elder currently follows can provide extra peace of mind, especially for seniors who have cognitive disabilities.
  • Choose sit-down meals. While it may be easier to grab fast food at a drive-through restaurant, stopping to enjoy a meal can prevent unnecessary messes while also providing relief after sitting in the car all day.
  • Eat at familiar restaurants. Dial your adventurous side down and opt for your senior’s favorite go-to restaurants. This will help make them feel more comfortable in unfamiliar destinations.

The most important thing for you to remember is to enjoy the ride. Take your time on the road and create new memories with your senior as you reminisce about the good old days. With spring around the corner, an afternoon drive and likely road trip are the perfect ways to enjoy each other’s company while following some helpful travel tips. Achieve a successful trip by not making assumptions, asking lots of questions and planning ahead.

Sources: caregiving.com, The Travel Type, The New York Times

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