What to know about traveling with an older family member

 What to know about traveling with an older family member

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Adult travelers are afraid to go out and travel again. According to AARP’s 2022 Travel Trends report, 66 percent of people over 70 are looking forward to traveling this year. Many find time with family.

Especially after the separation that has taken place over the past two years, “there is a lot of value in just being together in person,” said Amy Goyer, AARP’s national family and care expert.

Whether it’s a bucket-list trip or staycation, “everyone benefits from multigenerational travel,” Goyer said. “We build relationships through shared experiences.”

Families planning multigenerational travel should consider health and abilities, not age, when deciding if someone should travel and what type of trip to do. And with the right planning and flexibility, the trip can improve connection and broaden everyone’s perspective.

“The first thing to remember is that the elderly are not monolithic,” said Charles Ericsson, former president of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) and professor of infectious diseases at UT Health McGovern Medical School. “Travel decisions should depend on an individual medical examination of the traveler, as well as on the capacities of their companion or associates.”

The primary care physician’s office can be the first destination for any traveler – especially those with physical or mental health conditions – to confirm a clean health law and ensure that even which issues are well managed, including those that could put them at increased risk of travel -related illnesses. Ericsson encouraged family members to attend this visit to support their loved one and understand their medical need.

Managing routine vaccinations there will make it easier to pay for insurance, while an additional travel clinic appointment will provide travel -specific advice and any destination -specific vaccines and medications. (ISTM has an online list of travel clinics.) This should happen a few weeks before the trip, as some vaccines can take a long time to produce an immune response in the elderly.

In addition, confirm health insurance coverage and purchase travel insurance – which may include travel disruption, medical and/or evacuation coverage. Keep a copy of your family member’s medical record and list their medications, supplements and doses. Carry medicines in their original carry-on containers and inspected luggage, especially to international destinations, where replacement can be difficult if they are lost. And pack more if there are delays.

With new variants and increasing cases in some destinations, pandemic is still part of the travel scene-and the threat of severe covid disease increases with age and certain medical conditions. According to AARP, 73 percent of people over 70 are worried about the coronavirus, even though 78 percent consider it safe to travel.

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“We have to be smart in dealing with covid. Anyone who is an elderly person should be fully vaccinated and properly stabilized, especially if they are immunocompromised or have underlying conditions, ”Ericsson said. “Maybe it’s reasonable to just hide in a well -ventilated, remote environment.”

In addition, families can adapt a variety of risk reduction strategies, some of which include testing, participating in outdoor activities, avoiding people, monitoring the infection rate and visiting locals. destination. Staycation is another option; AARP research shows that 27 percent of people over 70 are likely to get one this year.

Plan ahead, but accept flexibility

“Planning ahead is the key to traveling with an adult family member and reducing stress for everyone,” Goyer said.

Consider the specific logistics for each day of your trip: What’s the routine at Mom’s house? When does he sleep, eat and take medicine? How active is he? Did he experience any deficiencies? If you haven’t seen him in a long time, does he have any new needs?

None of these factors are dealbreakers, and planning can address almost everything, Goyer said. As such, even if forward-thinking provides an important framework, flexibility is equally important.

“For caregivers, the mindset makes the biggest difference,” Goyer said. “Expect travel to present unpredictable delays and challenges, and that’s just part of the adventure.”

Also resist the urge to overschedule. Arrive early for transportation or to your destination, and make more time for preparation, medications, travel and sleep, as well as enough downtime for your loved one to rest each day.

“There’s so much we want to do when we travel,” Goyer said, “but things can take a long time, or you can run into obstacles. It’s better to run slowly than to hurry.”

When it comes to transportation planning, go the extra mile. For road trips, consider booking a hotel room in the middle of longer trips, and allow time to regroup once you arrive at your destination. Plan for toilet and stretching breaks every two hours.

If you fly, try buying direct flights at an hour of the day when your loved one has energy and the airports are not as busy. Some requests for help may be available when booking. Call airline customer service to make advanced arrangements for early boarding, boarding assistance and oxygen. Even if your loved one usually doesn’t use one, a wheelchair can be necessary for security, delay and gate replacement. At least 72 hours before departure, call or email TSA Cares to ask for help getting security.

How to plan a family vacation that everyone will enjoy

Whatever the transportation, bring and nutritious food, plenty of water and fun. Because traveling can cause anxiety in some seniors, a doctor or therapist may recommend nerve relief tools. And refundable or flexible reservations can alleviate everyone’s worries.

Wherever you stay, create a familiar environment for your family member. Unpack their luggage and arrange things on their nightstand, wardrobe and closet clothes, and bathroom amenities.

Adjacent rooms in hotels or vacation rentals can help you hear your loved one get out of bed at night – which is important if they are prone to falls or have a mental disability. Since the unfamiliar environment can confuse people with dementia, use audio monitors and door and floor alarms, which can alert you to their movements.

Also evaluate in advance any mobility requirements for your trip. Can your loved one ride the stairs of the train? Is your lodging ADA-compliant? Are your activities accessible for them? Can they rent or bring a walker or wheelchair? For international travelers, the U.S. State Department’s online information for travelers with disabilities can help you navigate accessibility laws in other countries.

Maximize your time together

Talk to family members in advance about their travel priorities. The areas where they overlap are the sweet spot for mutual interest and energy for activities.

“Many seniors are able to travel independently,” says Ericsson, but “trips can be good options for people who have lost some executive duties, because a guide can help. them to navigate unfamiliar situations. ” As such, don’t expect much from a guide unless they specifically care for adult travelers, and understand in advance any physical requirements.

Whatever your activities, create opportunities for family interaction, says Goyer. Play a game that everyone enjoys. Parents, relax while grandparents prepare dinner with the kids. Maybe Grandma wants to build sand castles with the kids but can’t sit on the beach – so step up the fun with sand on the outdoor table.

“Maybe we need to make adjustments, but the key is to have fun and make memories together,” Goyer said. “As people go on with life, that’s what they bring with them.”

Williams is an Oregon -based writer. His website for erinewilliams.com.

Potential travelers should consider local and national public health directives regarding pandemics before planning any trips. Travel health notice information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map that displays travel recommendations by destination and on the CDC’s travel health notice webpage.

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