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What Does Travel Mean for Caregivers?

Everybody travels. Whether for work or pleasure, many of us will find ourselves in situations where we need to be away from the home for various points throughout the year. In recent years, advances such as online flight booking and mobile boarding passes have made many aspects of travel relatively simple. However, as Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian describe in their article entitled “When It’s Time to Hit the Road,” planning a trip can become a serious logistical challenge for caregivers.

A plethora of questions arise in such a circumstance. Should I take my elderly parent with me? Should I enlist friends and family to watch after them at home? How will they adapt to being away from familiar surroundings? To answer these questions and others, Susan Lutz, project manager at AARP, was consulted to share her valuable insights.

The best option, as stated by Ms. Lutz, is to ask a friend or family member who is already helping to care for your parent to stand in for you while you are away. This allows three things to happen: you, as a caregiver, can go on your trip, your elderly parent remains in a place they with which they are familiar and most important, you have left your loved one with somebody they are can trust and with whom they can feel safe. However, if this option is not available, it is essential to keep the concept of familiarity in mind if you do choose to have your loved one accompany you on your trip.

After consulting with a doctor to ensure that that your loved one is able to travel, it is integral to plan ahead for anything that could occur throughout the duration of your trip. Ms. Lutz and several other authorities on caregiving compiled a list of suggestions on how to make traveling with an older adult less complicated for both you and your loved one.

Medication planning is of the utmost importance when planning any trip away from home. Finding oneself out of medications in unfamiliar surroundings is an extremely undesirable scenario that can be avoided with the use of medication checklist to ensure that you will have and adequate supply of all necessary medications.

As for travel, plan to make twice as many stops as usual and locate hospitals and care centers on your route and in your final destination ahead of time. Make sure to stay on a regular meal schedule so as not to throw off family members with cognitive impairment. Bring a deck of cards or some other activity that your loved one enjoys to promote mental stimulation and enjoyment.

A structured trip for which you have planned and prepared ahead of time will ensure your traveling experience is safe, well-coordinated and carefree!