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Caregiver Training Blog

Advice for Traveling with Parents


Advice-for-Traveling-with-ParentsTraveling with parents as they age can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. But it’s important for adult children and caregivers to approach traveling with patience, understanding, and good humor. 

Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or a longer road trip, we offer the following tips for travel with parents.

Tips for Any Travel with Seniors

As people age, travel can become difficult. If someone has been diagnosed with dementia, they may be experiencing memory impairment, changes in motor skills, or executive functioning impairment. That’s where adult children and caregivers can learn to help plan and control the situation to reduce stress.

Be On Time 

Seniors are often prompt, or even early. If you are late for a planned outing, it can sometimes lead to anxiety. Seniors with dementia often have moods, abilities, and behaviors that can shift by the day, or by the hour. Keeping them on schedule helps reduce agitation.

Slow Down

No one likes to feel like they are slowing people down. So if you are walking with your senior relative, take it at their pace.

Don’t Forget the Cane

If your parent uses a cane to assist them in walking, help them remember to bring it and use it. Same goes for hearing aids, walkers, or anything that helps your parent to function better in the world.

Plan for Meals

Ordering at restaurants can be challenging, especially if your parent is losing hearing or vision, or if they are facing cognitive challenges due to dementia. To reduce anxiety about eating out, look up a menu ahead of time and ask your relative what they’re interested in eating.

Advice for Longer Trips with Parents

If you haven’t seen your aging parent in a while, prepare mentally and emotionally for changes in their condition. They might be less physically able than the last time you saw them. If they have dementia, they might be experiencing sundowning, where they get more agitated or confused at nightfall, for example. It helps to discuss things ahead of time.

Plan Together

If you’re going on a trip with a parent, have a planning get-together where you can both talk about your expectations and needs. There will be fewer surprises.

Tag Team

If one of your siblings, children, or friends can join you on a trip with Mom or Dad, you can share the responsibility of helping your parent to get around.

Watch for Escalators

Escalators can be dangerous when people are unsteady on their feet. Use elevators instead.

Slow Down When Boarding or Disembarking

Seniors do better if they are not the first one on or off the bus, shuttle, or train. Wait until everyone has boarded or left, and then maneuver the steps without trying to rush. 

Ask for Help

People often are friendly and accommodating. More often than not, strangers are willing to hold an elevator, lift a suitcase, or give up their seat to a senior. 

Take Care of Yourself

When traveling with seniors, or in everyday situations, it’s important for caregivers to pay attention to self-care and avoid compassion fatigue. Approximately two-thirds of caregivers report that their caregiving situations are highly or moderately stressful. If not addressed, it can lead to burnout.

Experience the Joy of Being Together

Whether our parents are living with us, in a nursing home or assisted living, or aging in place, well-planned trips can help your loved one stay connected to you and to the world around them. It just takes some patience, planning, and compassion.

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