There is no age limit to travel, but travelling with elderly parents or relatives as an adult can be a challenging, yet a rewarding experience.
Here are some tips to help you plan and hopefully motivate you to travel and make memories with your elderly folks:
- Plan plan plan
Planning a trip locally or internationally, the recipe stays the same. Book the most direct flight/s if possible, preferably a day flight as the elderly do not have the energy for early-morning or late-night flights. If direct flights are not possible, choose connecting flights that are reasonably spread out. This gives everyone time to catch the next flight comfortably without rushing. Choose the right disability assistance, for example, a wheelchair. For flight travel, make sure a wheelchair is booked in advance to take them to the aircraft and back to the airport. When booking your accommodation make sure the hotel you are staying at accommodates the needs of elderly i.e wheelchairs, ramps, elevators, rails, etc. Locate and make a note of the nearest hospital to where you are staying.
- Insurance and medication
Ensure you have adequate travel insurance for all travellers. Label and pack all necessary medication with a doctor’s letter to travel in the hand luggage. Have your and their doctor’s details on your phone should you need to get hold of them in case of emergency. Carry a list of all their medication with you, list the medication name, reasons for consumption and time to consume. So if anything happens, the first thing a doctor will ask you is what medication are they are taking, the dosage and the frequency of it. This information can assist the treating doctor to execute the proper care.
Although they may want to pack their own bags, you would also need to know what exactly they are packing. Do this task together and ask them if they don’t mind you helping them get packed. Somethings may have been overlooked e.g a warm hat, add it in or pack it in your bag.
- Itinerary (with flexibility)
List the things that you would like to experience. Make the relevant logistical arrangements and ensure wherever you go accommodates their needs i.e wheelchair friendly areas and bathrooms are easily found. Allocate enough time in these places because you wouldn’t want to rush them as things are done slower than what you would do normally. Pace out the activities to prevent everyone tiring out. Remember getting in and out of a bus can be exhausting, so be aware of this.
- Role change
As an adult, be prepared for the role change. Your role will now be of that of a caregiver and it will be harder for aging parents to accept this. Your mindset needs a complete change and take into account the following:
- Patience, kindness and a sense of humour are required
- Just like when travelling with toddlers – pack a lot of snacks
- Make sure they always receive and keep their dignity
- Always ask first, “would you like some assistance?” and then listen
- Be prepared for an impromptu schedule
Elderly folks tire easily. So when you think you are raring to go someplace and they don’t feel up to it, then adjust. Alter your plans to accommodate their situation and remember the reasons for your journey and your focus should be more about them than you.
- Different foods
As much as visiting a new country or city, you might want to try new cuisine. Explore with caution as this may affect the diet and illness may prevail. So preferably eat what you normally eat at home and let everyone decide what they would prefer.
- Enjoy the time
As an adult travelling with the elderly, the first thing you would need to pack is PATIENCE. There may be instances where this would be running thin, but grin and bear it. And SMILE! Allow them to enjoy their trip because they may not get another chance and allow YOURSELF to enjoy it with them. Life is short and we are all going to reach that phase in life and may we do so gracefully. So cherish the time and all the moments you spend with them – it is worth it.