Twenty-one (21) Traveling Tips for Family Caregivers

Since the beginning of the pandemic, family travel has decreased.

As the COVID-19 infection rates continue to go down family travel is now increasing.

Over this Memorial weekend 2021 American Automobile Association (AAA) projects that of the 37 million people that will travel, 2.5 million of those will be traveling by air. AAA says that is a 600% increase in air travel over last year.

Here are some tips for family caregivers traveling with or without the senior they provide care.

Tips for Traveling with the person you provide care:

  1. Do you need a specially equipped vehicle? A larger vehicle? Look for a rental and confirm six (6) to eight (8) weeks in advance.
  2. If traveling over the road, plan to make more frequent stops than you might ordinary make for rest stop breaks and to stretch everyone’s legs. Have snacks packed to meet everyone’s dietary needs.
  3. Make sure sleeping accommodations meet your requirements. Are there bedrooms or hotel rooms/suites on the first floor? Are hotel rooms handicapped accessible? Does the hotel have an elevator?
  4. Do you need to accommodate and make health maintenance appointments, such as dialysis, IV infusion, etc. Schedule and confirm four (4) weeks prior in your destination city. They will probably require doctor orders and prescribed medical regiment in writing.
  5. Pre-fill med boxes and take them with you. If traveling for more than a week, pre-fill additional med boxes for the additional weeks. Take extra meds in bottles.
  6. Are going to attend a special event? A family wedding? Would it be appropriate to schedule a senior companion to tend to the needs of your senior on that day? Call a private duty agency in your destination city at least four (4) weeks ahead of the special date.
  7. Do you need to accommodate a special diet? Are you renting accommodations with a kitchen? Are you planning on cooking? If not, are their healthy choice near your accommodations for you to purchase appropriate meals? Do they have monthly menus posted in advance? Do they deliver?
  8. Are you traveling with someone with dementia? Make a wristband for them with their name and your contact information on it. Also try to keep their routine as close to their normal routine. Consider breakfast time, lunch time, bedtime and more.
  9. Does your senior have a pet? Are you taking the pet with you? If not, schedule a reliable pet sitter.
  10. If you planning to go sight-seeing and to do local travel tours, check ahead by googling “accessible things to do” in your destination city. You want to make sure your senior can get around and enjoy the sights with as much accessibility accommodations and assistance as possible.

Tips for Traveling without the person you provide care:

  1. Consider placing your senior in a senior community that provides short term respite.
  2. If your senior can stay at home with assistance-schedule a reliable friend or relative to provide them companionship and assistance.
  3. If your senior is planning on staying home and needs more handson care, consider scheduling a caregiver through a home care or private duty agency. Schedule and confirm 3-4 weeks in advance.
  4. Do necessary shopping if possible beforehand. Leave money and a credit card for family friend or family member to have access to for shopping.
  5. Discuss and write out a menu plan that meets the required dietary needs of your senior. Keep it simple, not every likes to cook. Are there meal delivery services with healthy choices or are there personal chefs that can prepare custom meals while you are out of town?
  6. Set up meds before you leave for as many days as you will be gone.
  7. Leave physician and emergency phone numbers for those helping out while you are out of town.
  8. Cancel and reschedule unnecessary appointments during your absence.
  9. Make sure to arrange, schedule and discuss required transportation to appointments and other planned outings happening while you are gone.
  10. Is there a dog that you regularly walk for your senior? Hire a dog walker while you are gone and I suggest you keep them on the payroll when you return!

Tips for a Person Who Needs Care Traveling Without Family or Friends

Several companies offer non-medical and medical travel escort and companion services. Our company offers both. Our program is called “Care-On-The-Go”. From more information visit In-Home Care Clients We Serve (stafflinkusa.com)

Remember that there is no reason that family caregivers cannot travel. And there is no reason for seniors or persons with disabilities not to be included in travel plans. Planning ahead will help to make your travel much more relaxing and stress-free, no matter if you are traveling with or without the person that you provide care.

Sweet travels!

http://www.aaa.com

Planning Wheelchair Accessible Travel | INSPIRED 55+ Lifestyle Magazine (seniorlivingmag.com)

Gretchen Curry, MSPH