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Good Housekeeping
Jade Cua, Contributor
September 07, 2010

Trip Tips: Going on Vacation with Elderly Family Members

Organizing trips with older family members need not be stressful. Thinking ahead usually does the trick. By Jade Cua
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travel_with_elderly_p1_921618.jpgAhh, vacation—a time when people take a break from the daily grind to unwind and have fun. Parents with children in tow are a typical sight on beaches and in resorts and other destinations, but many families also travel with elderly relatives. Planning a trip takes considerable preparation, but organizing one with older companions includes concerns that may not pose problems for younger travelers who are in good health.
A little extra effort and foresight, however, goes a long way toward a great vacation for everybody. This is why FN has compiled 10 tips for making travel with seniors comfortable and stress-free. Click on a topic linked below to learn about ways to make your vacations less hectic and more fun or simply scroll down and keep reading!


Get advice from a physician.

Make an appointment with a doctor for a checkup so that you know the basic health condition of your lolo or lola. This is especially important if your relatives have pre-existing conditions because they may need extra care that might not be easily accessible in the provinces or abroad. Knowing what their needs are can help you map out your vacation better. Maybe you should shorten that walking tour or include several rest stops to prevent exhaustion or heatstroke.

Consider using movement aids.

A cane or foldable walker may come in handy, especially if you plan on hopping from one site to another. If your vacation involves air travel, you may want to reserve a wheelchair. Standing in long lines, as well as waiting and undergoing routine procedures, can quickly deplete the energy levels of your senior companions. Having a wheelchair ready could save you the additional hassle of trying to get one amid the chaos of the airport.

Pack comfortable clothing and shoes.

Loose clothing is the ideal travel gear for the elderly, especially in airplanes. Wearing outfits that are tight or constricting may affect their circulation and lead to extreme discomfort. Clothes that are “breathable” and designed for easy movement can help make vacation a more enjoyable experience.  

(Photo source: sxc.hu)


Store medicines within easy reach.

Put all medication, especially anything that needs to be taken regularly, in a carry-on bag. Make sure that each drug is labeled properly and comes in the proper doses. By doing so, you avoid disrupting their medication cycle, cutting the risk of exacerbating a chronic illness or exposing them to other dangers. The last thing you want is to rummage frantically through your luggage in the car or bus, especially in case of an emergency. And if you’re up in the air, imagine the uproar that this scenario would create. You may also want to have extra prescriptions written out just in case you run out or lose any while you’re away from home.

Know where to get medical care.

Ask your travel agent or hotel to provide you with list of nearby hospital or physicians. If you’re abroad, in a country where English is not a widely spoken language, perhaps you can request the services of an interpreter or enlist the help of your tour guide. This may seem like an over-the-top move, but health is one of those things you’re better off being safe (and paranoid) than sorry about.

travel_with_elderly_p2_1062252.jpgKEEPING THINGS FUN AND FANCY-FREE

Ward off stress and exhaustion.

If your travel plans involve long drives or flights that extend beyond four hours, allot some time for simple exercises. Stretching and quick walks can fend off that “pins and needles” sensation that results from limited movement or staying in one position for too long. Dehydration is also a major energy drainer, so it’s best to serve seniors water instead of coffee, tea, or sugary drinks.

Keep things simple.

Since vacation leaves are rare and therefore infinitely more valuable these days, most people tend to have activity-filled plans when they do get days off. But if older family members are joining you, it’s best not to over-complicate things. If you’re eying a beach break, you may want to check into a resort with a single-story building or bungalow villas. If you’re staying at a hotel, you could reserve rooms on the first or lower levels.

Make them feel welcome.

The quarrelsome senior citizen is such a stereotype, but what most people miss is the reason behind it. Their touchy temperaments are often a reaction to being ignored or neglected. Assure them that they are loved and are a vital part of the family. Involve them in the planning stage and take their input and concerns into consideration. Having a detailed checklist will result in an organized vacation, but making every member feel welcome and valued will lead to a memorable and delightful experience.   

(Photo source: sxc.hu)
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  • Janna Sep 08 2010 @ 07:28am Report Abuse
    Before my lolo died we took him to the beach 1-2x a month and you could see he was really happy even just sitting in a chair in the water. So its super worth it to bring your senior relatives with you even if its a bigger hassle.
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