What Does Travel Mean for Caregivers?

Everybody travels.  Whether it is for pleasure or out of necessity, it is an inevitable reality that people will have to leave their homes for extended periods of time.  For many people travel has become an incredibly easy experience to prepare for; pack your clothes, chargers, shoes and you are on your way.  However, as Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian state in their article entitled “When It's Time to Hit the Road,” planning a trip can become a logistical nightmare 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.

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.  This allows three things to happen: you, as a caregiver, can go on your trip, your elderly parent is in a place they are familiar with, and most important, you have left your loved one with somebody they are already familiar with.  However, if this option is not available, it is pivotal to keep the concept of familiarity in mind if you choose to take your loved one with you on your trip.

After consulting with a doctor to determine if your loved one is able to travel, it is integral to plan ahead for anything that could occur over 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 elderly person less complicated and more tranquil for both you and your loved one.

Medication should be at the forefront of your mind as you plan for your trip.  You never want to be in a position where you run out of the correct medication for your loved one. It is imperative that you plan ahead.  Double check to make sure you have a sufficient supply of medication. 

As for travel, plan to make twice as many stops as usual and locate hospitals and care centers 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.  Not only does this help pass time but, simply put, it is fun!  Making your trip more structured and preparing ahead of time will ensure your traveling experience is safe, well coordinated and carefree!


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