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Senior travel tips for a safe, fun vacation

bhc senior travel tips.jpgWhether you are treating a senior loved one to a dream vacation or just looking for some quality time with family, travel can be an enriching and rewarding way to families make memories and for seniors to stay physically and mentally active.

Traveling with a senior who has mobility issues, cognitive disorders or medical needs can be challenging, but a little planning, preparation and patience go a long way toward a successful vacation for everyone.

Talk to your doctor – The first question, of course, is whether it is advisable for your senior loved one to travel. Then ask about necessary accommodations, equipment, prescription refills and suggested limitations to ensure a safe and happy trip for everyone. (If your senior has implants that will set off a metal detector, get a letter from your doctor to get you through airport security in a timely manner.)

Triple check supplies, prescriptions and other medical needs - Your parent should plan to have enough medication to last the duration of the trip and have extra prescriptions on hand just in case. If you are traveling internationally, make sure you have the adapters you need for any medical equipment you are bringing along.

Research travel insurance – There are medical coverage options available with travel insurance, but whether or not your senior will qualify for coverage may depend on their preexisting conditions. condition it could be difficult to get.

Ask for special services in advance – Special boarding, disabled seating, wheelchair services can all be arranged while making your travel plans. Contact accommodations to ensure you are staying in a senior-friendly room, suite or home with passages that are navigable with a wheelchair or walker and safety features such as bathroom grab bars.

Keep your documents organized and accessible - Designate a place to carry your travel documents such as tickets, passports, itineraries, etc., and a spot for medical documents such as insurance cards, disability paperwork, letters from your physician, prescriptions, etc. Keep copies of all documentation in your carry on and in your checked luggage and leave one behind with a trusted friend or family member in case you are separated from all your baggage.

Research local medical facilities – You’ll feel more relaxed if you know exactly where to go in case of a medical emergency.

Plan each day with your senior in mind – Your senior may like to keep a strict, set schedule or require an afternoon nap. Seniors with dementia may experience “sundowner syndrome” late in the day and need to wrap up activities by mid-afternoon. They may need to eat or drink at certain times to stay on schedule for their prescription medications. And chances are you are going to moving a little more slowly and will take more time to transition from hotel room to shuttle bus, or tour bus to restaurant. Build time into the schedule so you can take things at a leisurely pace and work around your senior’s needs when it comes to planning activities. If they need a few quiet hours in the afternoon, schedule activities that don’t interest them during their respite.

Traveling with a senior loved one may be just what you need – a chance to slow down and truly appreciate the authentic spirit of your destination. Go into your travels with the right mindset and make it the trip of a lifetime.