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With more and more of the Baby Boomer Generation providing senior home care for our aging parents, it stands to reason more of us are traveling together as well.
This can be very rewarding, however it can also add some challenges to our trip planning. Here are 12 tips to help:
- Most hotels offer handicapped suites. Even if your senior parent is fairly spry, they may appreciate the extra room and the extra grab bars that are usually available with those. Not only that, if your elderly parent has hearing problems, some of the disability rooms even offer doorbells and telephones with a choice of ringers or lights to notify you of guests/phone calls.
- This can also protect them from being inadvertently assigned a room on the upper floor with no elevator available. That happened to me two years ago and I did ok, but it would definitely have been hard on my senior mom.
- Speaking of stairs, thanks to that incident, I now always ask if there are elevators and, if not, I make sure I request ground floor rooms even if they don’t have accessible rooms, at the same time I make the reservation. (I have to admit, it wasn’t that easy for me to lug the suitcases up and down those stairs!)
- Check each hotel room over when you are getting your senior parent settled in. Look for anything that could cause a nasty slip and fall accident! Fall protection is always important, and even more so when traveling in strange surroundings.
- If your senior parent has a disability parking permit, be sure to tuck it in your purse along with any card that may come with it. Even if they don’t use the placard all the time, traveling can be quite exhausting and your elderly parent may be extra glad to have it handy.
- It’s important for us to realize that a senior parent often doesn’t have as much energy as us and plan for plenty of rest breaks for them. If it’s possible, you might want to consider separate rooms which can give them the option for cat naps while you work or visit with others.
- If you do get separate rooms, be sure to request adjoining rooms, if those are available, and otherwise rooms that are across from each other or side by side. If you don’t make that request when you schedule the rooms, you might wind up quite a ways apart. An elderly parent who is exhausted can easily become disoriented in new surroundings. They’ll feel better, and so will you, if you’re close to each other.
- Also, be sure to forewarn anyone you are visiting that your parent may need plenty of rest time. If they don’t need it, that’s wonderful. If they do need it, there’ll be less disappointment and frustration on both sides.
- We try to always get hotel rooms with a refrigerator and microwave. That way, if your aging parent needs to stay in the room while you go out, or gets sick while traveling, you can stock their room with cup-a-soup, crackers, lunchmeat, bread, condiments, and sodas. Then they can eat foods they like even when you are not there.
- Even if your senior parent doesn’t normally use a walking cane, it can be useful to pack one if they have it. Arthritis foot pain or knee pain flare-ups, tiredness, or just plain tripping can make it worth its weight in gold!
- When traveling together regularly, make sure you sign up for the various hotels’ frequent traveler programs and put both rooms on one rewards card, even if you pay for the rooms separately. These are great ways to save money and by combining the trips on one card you’ll earn reward points faster which can lead to free rooms and other discounts. You can then share the expenses and the savings equally.
- If an aging parent gets ill on the road, it can be a difficult experience for both of you. You probably already keep copies of their health insurance information in your wallet which will help make things a bit easier. If not, now’s a great time to start. You might also want to write down the phone number and address of the urgent care center and hospital closest to your hotel BEFORE you need it.
Traveling is never easy, and often, the older you get, the more challenging it can be. It’s still quite worthwhile but it definitely pays to go out of your way to make things as easy as possible for your elderly parents. They’ll get to enjoy the travel experience but will appreciate your thoughtfulness in making sure they also get plenty of rest and Tender Loving Senior Home Care, even when you are all away from home.