Summer traveling with an elderly relative might not generate the relaxing images you’d typically associate with a vacation. But some minor preparations can make a world of difference and allow a cautious caregiver to become a mellow sunbather overnight.
It all takes just nine easy steps, and Partners in Care, an affiliate of The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), has you covered. Renata Gelman, RN, BSN, clinical manager for Partners in Care, compiled the tips to make traveling together easy, safe and enjoyable.
- Keep it simple: If your relative has limited mobility, renting a one-story lakefront cottage within driving range will be more enjoyable than a whirlwind jaunt overseas or a trip cross-country.
- Tailor travel to your needs. If driving, consider using a larger vehicle to accommodate your space needs. Check with your airline or hotel ahead of time about special requests, such as a wheelchair, meals or special room requirements.
- Think ahead: Familiarize yourself with your destination before you go. Browse City Search, local tourism or chamber of commerce web sites to find health services, medical facilities, pharmacies and grocery stores, and keep that information with you.
- Bring prescriptions: If you are traveling with medication, carry a copy of the prescription. If your trip involves flying, be sure that medication is in its original prescription container and check with your doctor about any special certificates for traveling. Also, be sure to review medication side effects, such as exposure to the sun or interaction with certain foods.
- Pack appropriately: Take along support stockings for extended road trips or flights and pack a back-up of medical supplies. Have snacks and plenty of water ready. Even if your destination offers such provisions, you’ll be better able to enjoy yourself if you have them on hand.
- Minimize distractions and maximize familiarity: A new environment may be confusing to a relative with dementia. Bring a few favorite objects to create a sense of home and try to maintain your loved one’s routine as much as possible.
- Plan shifts: You might be the primary caregiver at home, but remind your family that this is your vacation, too. Set up a schedule so that everyone who’s old enough has a few hours where he or she is responsible for your loved one.
- Line up help at your destination: If your loved one needs help with personal care or has a condition that requires skilled nursing care, contact a home health care agency to arrange for services from a home-health aide or nurse. Check in as to whether there are any adult daycare centers nearby.
- Pace yourself: Your elderly relative might not be able to keep up with certain activities, so be sure to work a fair share of rest and downtime into your trip. Don’t forget to take full advantage of the lulls, too. After all, you’re on vacation!
To learn more about Partners in Care, visit www.partnersincareny.org.