Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 24, 2015 9:00 PM ET
4 Tips for Traveling with Seniors
Image courtesy of Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd.
It was supposed to be a long overdue girls' getaway. I invited my mom on a four-day cruise through the Caribbean with me because it would be fun. My mom was a young 67-year-old and we would bond over cocktails, and beach days, and silly cruise ship games. Unfortunately, my expectations didn’t quite match up to the reality of my physically challenged, diabetic mother. I quickly discovered that traveling with seniors requires a whole arsenal of preparations that have nothing to do with TSA regulations.
As a professional travel writer, I’m pretty skilled at travel preparation. I organized our itinerary, packed her suitcase with light, breathable clothes, and scheduled our flights. But I didn’t consider the preparation that my mother would need to travel safely and comfortably. When we docked in Cozumel, I quickly realized that the hot sand was an unsuitable surface for my mom’s already unsteady gait. I turned my back for a minute, and she had tumbled into the ocean. Panicked, I enlisted help from a strong-armed couple who helped me pull her out of the water. From then on, I was a nervous wreck, wondering how to avoid any other mishaps.
After consulting with geriatric professionals, I discovered that there are key guidelines to consider when traveling with seniors:
1. Check Health Insurance Details
"Find out how insurance works in another country or state,” advises a senior care specialist. Find out how Medicaid works there. Know whether there is a doctor, hospital, or medical provider nearby.
2. Call Ahead
Contact the hotel concierge if you need help with a walker or wheelchair. Contact the agent at the gate you’re flying from and into to set up assistance at the airport or train terminal.
3. Discuss Travel Plans With A Doctor
Contact the physician to write a note if the senior can’t sit for too long, has a metal brace or body part or needs special consideration on the plane and at the airport. If traveling internationally, other precautions should be considered. Discuss immunizations or any extreme climates with the doctor.
4. Consider Additional Help
Sometimes on extra set of hands, like with my beach disaster, is all you need to make sure that your senior is safe and comfortable. According to senior care experts, there are local caregivers and assistants that can give care while traveling. Contact agencies that can locate the most appropriate and experienced person.
More by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
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