General Interest / Senior Living

Stay Safe When Vacationing and Caregiving

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The days have grown longer and the temperatures have gotten higher. At this point in time, many caregivers are likely planning a family vacation.

Of course, your older relatives will be invited – after all, it's a family trip! However, traveling with them will bring some challenges. As a caregiver, you're familiar with their needs at home and know where the local hospital is if any emergencies arise. However, this peace of mind can be lacking when you're on vacation, far away from the comforts and familiarity of home.

Understand the enthusiasm
You may wonder whether your loved ones really want to join in the fun. It can be wearisome, depending on how you're traveling and the length of time you'll spend at the destination. However, The New York Times pointed out that in light of the recent recession, many travel companies are offering vacation trips specifically geared toward seniors, who have money saved up and are enthusiastic about traveling. Therefore, you can likely bet that they'll be more than willing to participate in the family vacation. 

Know what to expect
The accommodations that you may have to make will depend on your relatives' overall well-being. If they're healthy and active, you may have little to worry about. On the other hand, if they have limited mobility due to health conditions, you may have to plan your trip accordingly. Additionally, if you're vacationing in an area with a warm climate, you have to worry about sun exposure and dehydration. 

A family vacation with older adults and children can be especially difficult because the two groups will want to travel at different speeds. If you don't know where to start with your plans, here are some tips:

  • Figure out mobility: Consider the level of mobility that your loved ones have. Do they require any mobility support products? If so, what kind and do you need special accommodations for them? Small items such as canes and walkers can be easy to stow away in the car and use at the destinations, but larger ones such as wheelchairs will require more consideration when packing. In terms of overall accessibility of the destinations – are there ramps? Elevators? You'll have to look into these and work out the logistics.
  • Have an emergency plan: When traveling, it's always best to plan for the worst. If your loved ones have health conditions that act up and require medical attention, knowing the location of the nearest hospital is essential. If it's something that doesn't require immediate medical attention but will prevent them from continuing on the trip, is there someone who can and will be willing to bring them back home?
  • Plan according to their abilities: If the trip consists of only adults, it'll be easier to adjust the daily schedule. Everybody will be more aware of the needs of older family members and will be happy to work with them. writer Pam LeBlanc pointed out that traveling with older adults means planning activities at their baselines, which can mean slowing down and cutting back. This doesn't have to be detrimental to the overall trip. It gives everybody more time to enjoy the details, rather than breezing through each venue and moving on. 
  • Split the group: Chances are, the kids will be active and want to play all the time. Others will want to take it easy and may opt to spend the day at the hotel or on the beach instead of heading into the neighboring town for more adventures. This is a good way for everybody to get what they want out of the trip. Come nighttime, everybody can regroup for dinner and catch up on the day's activities.    
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