Traveling with elder family members for the holidays?

Follow these senior care tips to make it a healthy, happy year

Traveling can be hard on all of us, especially over the holidays, when airports, highways, and public transit systems are more packed than usual. For aging loved ones, travel can be especially hard, as it takes them away from the daily resources and routines that help them stay healthy, mobile, and comfortable.

When traveling with senior family members, it’s important to be prepared. Seniors are more impacted by temperature changes, wind and weather, long periods of sitting or standing, and the frustrations of holiday travel than other family members. You can plan ahead to help mediate many of these challenges.

·         Be prepared with what you wear. Your aging loved one should have a winter coat that’s appropriately heavy for the winter and weather where you live. Bear in mind that a bare head loses lots of body heat, so having a hat and scarf on hand is important. Dressing in layers can help moderate how hot or cold your loved one feels during their travel or their day.

·         Prepare your vehicle, if you’re driving. If your family is making a road trip with your aging loved one, you can be even better prepared than if you’re on a plane or train: pack your car ahead of time with snacks and water, single-use handwarmers, and any medical or emergency items you might need should anything happen with the health of your loved one. Senior care providers also recommend having a pillow or blanket in the car for extra warmth or support.

·         Plan to help your loved one reposition. During long periods of travel, the body can respond in lots of ways. Prolonged air travel might result in a higher risk of blood clots, or generalized muscle and joint pain. Circulation can be impacted by long periods of sitting still. Plan to help your loved one move around when they can and reposition every hour to be sure that their body can cope with extended travel.

·         Know what medications you need to have on hand. No matter your loved one’s diagnoses, one crucial part of good senior care is to not skip a dose of a medicine. You can preprogram alarms and reminders into your cell phone to help keep your aging loved one’s medication schedule intact no matter where you go.

Of course, the best senior care tip is always to follow the directives of your aging loved one’s healthcare providers. You can consult with your loved one’s doctors ahead of time, let them know your concerns and travel plans, and get feedback on the best ways for your family member to navigate the challenges of the holidays. Providing great senior care doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does mean that you’ll need to be knowledgeable, prepared, and ready to advocate for the safety and comfort of your loved one. 

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