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Summer means vacations, but when you’re a caregiver you might think traveling with an elderly parent who requires special care is out of the question. In fact, with a little planning and scaling your trip to meet everyone’s needs, you can still get away and have an enjoyable time. Here are some helpful tips for planning travel:
Keep it simple. If your parent has limited mobility, renting a one-story lake-front cottage within driving range will be more enjoyable than a whirlwind jaunt overseas or a trip cross-country. If you’re expectations are in line with your reality, you’re likely to have a less stressful getaway.
Tailor travel to your needs. If driving, consider renting a larger vehicle to accommodate your space needs. Check in with your airline or hotel about special requests, such as a wheelchair, meals or special room requirements like first floor lodging or adjoining suites.
Think ahead. Familiarize yourself with your destination before you go. Locate medical facilities, pharmacies and grocery stores.
Bring prescriptions. If you are traveling with medication, take along a copy of the prescription. If your trip involves flying, be sure that medication is in its original prescription container and check with your doctor’s office about whether you will need any special certificate for traveling with certain meds. And be sure to review medication side effects, such as exposure to the sun or interaction with certain foods.
Pack appropriately. Take along support stockings, for extended road trips or flights and a backup of medical supplies. Have snacks and plenty of water at the ready. Even if your destination offers such provisions, you’ll be better able to enjoy yourself if you have them on hand.
Minimize distractions and maximize familiarity. A new environment may be confusing to a parent with dementia. Bring a few favorite objects to create a sense of home, and try to maintain your loved one’s routine as much as possible.
Plan shifts. You might be the primary caregiver at home, but remind your family that this is your vacation, too. Set up a schedule so that everyone who’s old enough has a few hours where he or she is responsible for your parent.
Line up help at your destination. If your parent needs help with personal care or has a condition that requires skilled nursing care, contact a home health care agency to arrange for services from a home health aide or nurse. And check in as to whether there are any adult day care centers nearby.
Pace yourself. Your elderly relative might not be able to keep up with certain activities, so be sure to work a fair share of rest and downtime into your trip. And don’t forget to take full advantage of the lulls, too—after all, you’re on vacation.
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.