travel information for caregivers

This Southwest plush airplane makes great travel gifts for grandparents to give to grandkidsThe trip my senior mom and I took to see our grandkids (and her great grandkids) was wonderful but it did take its toll! Because my senior mom has off and on back and feet pain, uses a cane, and has other health issues, I encouraged her to ask for the preboarding that many airlines offer. On the way there, she just did NOT want to. She's very spunky and independent (and then can't figure out why I am so spunky and independent 🙂 ) and felt she should do it all on her own. As a result, though, she had a very difficult time boarding each plane. It's amazing how much more difficult it can be for an elderly senior to walk down an aisle that has people in the seats compared to walking down an empty plane.

On the way home, she was thrilled, delighted, and totally exhausted. As a result, she did opt for the preboarding. What a blessing it was for her! Everyone at the gate was so sweet to her, very helpful – many going way out of their way to help her. And such a relief for her to get settled comfortably in her seat without having to worry about running into people or trip on luggage in the aisle. 

It can be really hard for our aging parents to accept help from others, but it can be such a big help for them AND for us. And that can often be a good way of putting it to them. My sweet mom is so caring and giving. Once she realized the extra help for her could be a blessing to me AND to others she wouldn't end up bumping, she felt much better at accepting the extra help. 

So next time you fly with your aging parents who need some extra help, I highly encourage you to encourage them to reach out and accept what is wonderfully offered. A blessing to them, a blessing to others, AND a blessing to you! Happy travels!!!!

A handicapped placard for aging senior parents really help with airline travel as well as car travelWelcome back to part two of the latest travel tips my senior mom and I came up with on our latest trip to visit long distance grandkids. I must stay, Southwest has been, and continues to be, my favorite airline for years. This time, though, we had to fly another major airline, which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. They were great to work with and very gracious and helpful to my senior mom and her health issues. Also, I did love the advantage of having assigned seats with only two seats in each of our rows.

BUT, both the big and small planes we rode on had the narrowest aisles I've ever seen in my life! They were very hard to maneuver  – especially for an elderly parent with a cane, not to mention a baby boomer juggling both our carry-ons. My carry-on was tiny but hers was medium and kept bumping the seats and the people in them. It definitely pays to travel as light as possible with the smallest backpacks and carry-ons you can get by with!

Not only that! Even though we had assigned seats, we were told to get on the plane in groups and there was NO straight line. Very confusing for anyone and especially a sweet senior citizen. It made me really appreciate Southwest's organized way of loading onto a plane.

MORE TIPS:

  • Most airports allow closer parking at cheaper rates with a disability placard when you exit.
  • Monitor how much water your elderly parents drink. My mom forgot to drink extra water during the first leg of our journey and got a bit woozy on our layover. Fortunately, she realized it fairly quickly and we had her drink extra at dinner and on the plane and she was soon feeling much better.
  • Monitor meals for senior parents. Flying can definitely play havoc with eating – especially for those seniors with light appetites. But for those flying all day, it's vital to make sure they eat at least three meals or healthy snacks throughout the day – even if they think they aren't hungry. In fact, I've noticed with both grandkids and seniors that they may need firm encouragement to eat or buy something for on the plane. And both have later thanked me when they realized how hungry they were getting. 🙂
  • Many airports charge for wifi. Even if it is free, it can be very slow. So make sure you have all vital information with you in your smart phone or computer and, if possible, on a hard copy – in addition to anything you may have "in the cloud." On one trip, for example, I had all my travel info in my cell phone email as well as a hard copy. On the way, I needed to check the email copy as it had extra details I needed. NO GO! I couldn't get my email to open at all! Now I copy all of that info into my calendar and travel with a hard copy as well. Along the same lines, I noticed some airlines and airports allow smart phone apps and options so you can just show the phone to be scanned for checking in easily. I commented on that to the agent, saying I had considered doing that but wasn't sure how practical it was. He immediately shook his head and said, "Don't do it!" Or if you do, make sure you also have a hard copy with you. He had seen several people wait half hour or more in the security line only to have the smart phone app not work, just like I have occasionally experienced with my Michael's coupon app. Then they had to go back to the ticketing booth and start all over! Can you imagine that happening if you were late! Or if you were traveling with aging parents or young grandkids or both!
  • Just as they always warn you – get to the airport EARLY!!! As important as this tip is in general, it's doubly so with elderly parents and/or grandkids! Everything ends up taking longer. You want them to be able to enjoy the whole trip and you don't need any extra stress! Giving yourself lots of time cushion is a sweet gift for both of you!

As you can tell, this particular trip was definitely fun and educational. And YES, we'd love to hear your travel tips as well. Happy flying – and see you after Thanksgiving with one more important tip before we return to our Sandwich Generation iPad Adventures.

Travel Tips for the Sandwich Generation - Boomers and Seniors - planning on bathing at hotels - make sure your room has an easy to access tubWhile visiting family, I stayed the first night at a hotel as my flight got in very late. Feeling very confident the room would work well for me, as I had followed my own travel tips to make sure the room was on the first floor, I walked into the bathroom and gawked at the bathtub. The sides seemed so high! I finally decided my eyes were playing tricks on me as I was so tired so I headed for bed and slept like a log. 

Feeling much better when I woke the next morning, after a solid seven hours sleep,  I walked back into the bathroom, rubbed my eyes, then realized the sides of that tub really were higher than the norm for this hotel, and any other hotel I've ever stayed at! Sure enough, when I climbed into the tub, I was OK but it was DEFINITELY high!

I was really glad my senior mom wasn't with me on this trip. She would NEVER have been able to get into that tub. While I'm sure many bath soakers probably love that tub,  I'm pretty sure many senior citizens would have great difficulty getting into it. (For that matter, most of my grandkids would have needed help too!) Yet another reason to follow #1 on my list of 12 Travel Tips for Senior Home Care Givers and Their Carees. If any of you have any kind of health issues, always ask if the hotel/motel has handicapped rooms available. While they can vary widely from room to room, they should still offer easier access to bathroom sinks, toilets, and tubs, which is so important.

How about you and your Sandwich Generation family? Have you ever had a hotel room with a bathtub/shower that was too hard to get into? We'd love to hear. 

Travel tips for the Sandwich Generation caring for the aging parentsStanding in line at the crowded airport, waiting to board my very full plane, I noticed an elderly couple with their daughter. Two of them were sitting in chairs while the senior mom was in a wheelchair. Since they were clearly on the wrong side of the line for the pre-boarding offered to those with disabilities and their companions, I walked over and asked them if they knew about pre-boarding. 

I have to admit, I was afraid I'd be rebuffed. (Can you tell I've had that happen in the past when sharing information I thought people might not know. 🙂 ). Everyone knows about the preboarding option for seniors and others with special needs, right? Wrong! They did not know and were quite grateful I told them. 

This was a Southwest flight with no assigned seating. They would have had such a difficult time navigating the aisles to find a seat several rows back. As it was, when I boarded the plane a few minutes after they had, I smiled at them sitting comfortably in the very front row. I was so glad that I had spoken up.  I don't know if all airlines offer preboarding, but Southwest and ATA both do. Whatever your airline, it's well worth asking about.

Another good travel tip when traveling with aging parents is to make full use of loaner wheelchairs for any seniors or others who are not able to walk a normal, let alone fast, pace. My senior mom is usually able to walk on her own but she has to move very slowly. If we don't have much time for transitioning from one flight to another, she might not make it to the other flight in time without the assistance of a wheelchair or one of the motorized mini-cars you see in many airports. Even if our aging parents don't want this type of transport, sometimes because they are embarrassed, it's important for them to realize it's a practical necessity that is required in these days of airline security issues, overcrowded terminals, and their health needs. 

It's a great idea to discuss these subjects a couple of times before a trip to make sure that any concerns regarding your aging parents and their travel needs are dealt with ahead of time, making for an easier and less-stressful trip for both of you