If you're planning a vacation with an elderly or mobility impaired family member, these helpful tips will reduce the stress of your trip.If you're planning a vacation with an elderly or mobility impaired family member, these helpful tips will reduce the stress of your trip.
Family vacations are just that — meant to be taken with family, no matter what limitations some members of your family might have. Though you may be worried about an elderly or disabled relative, incorporating them into your trip doesn’t have to be stressful. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you plan and follow through on a more relaxed, fun, and safe vacation for the whole family.
Selecting the Right Vacation Destination
Picking a hotel or resort that offers a wide variety of activities will ensure that people of all abilities can find something to do. You can also involve all family members in selecting activities by letting each person pick one top thing to do, ensuring a wide range of options. If you're a family that likes to explore, sightsee or get to know a new city, there are other considerations. When planning an active vacation, make sure to decide on a pace that will work for all members of your family. A slower pace with designated rest times can reduce stress for all.
When booking a room, make sure you request an appropriate one, such as a first floor or adjoining room. Rooms on lower floors near an elevator and fire stairway are best in case of an emergency. At hotels, resorts and on cruise ships, ask about booking a handicap accessible room with wide doorways and special bathroom fixtures, such as hand holds and grab bars.
Noted travel expert Stanley Turkel, author of "Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers Of the Hotel Industry," says that many hotels don’t make conditions in their public areas comfortable and safe for seniors. He suggests that senior travelers ask questions before booking a hotel, and avoid hotels with poorly lit rooms and corridors. Check reviews for the hotel on customer service—weak eyesight or poor hearing requires extra patience from the staff.
Consult a Physician & Plan Ahead
Before leaving, ask a physician for medical clearance for elderly or disabled members of your family in order to ensure that your vacation plans are appropriate and practical. Physicians will also be able to provide extra medication if needed, medical records, and emergency contact information. Keepin mind the following:
• • Because traveling often brings contact with different climates and cuisines, be aware of medication side effects while traveling, such as susceptibility to the sun or interaction with specific foods.
• • Consider the affordability and need for an aide who can travel with you, if the physician determines it's safe for your relative to travel.
• • If you’re planning to fly to your destination, ask for priority boarding and, if needed, an onboard wheelchair. Plan for longer connection times between flights. You can arrange for cart transportation within the airport as well.
• • If driving, you can rent a vehicle with accessible features. Plan for more frequent stretching and restroom stops. If you’re traveling by train, Amtrak has wheelchair and oxygen equipment accessible accommodations.
• • While traveling, products such as support stockings are available to alleviate leg pain and numbness.
Think ahead to the needs of everyone in your travel party. Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership, explains, "Whether you're planning to vacation with a loved one who needs special care – or looking for peace of mind while a loved one stays home – the key words for success are plan, plan, and plan."
If you decide that your trip would not be suitable for an elderly or disabled member of your family, you can consider respite care. Many retirement homes offer respite care or daily home visits.
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