Are you a caregiver who is dreaming of a vacation? Traveling with your loved one is possible. You might be tempted to put travel plans aside to remain close to your loved one, but you don’t have to. Taking time off to relax is important for your physical and mental health. It’s also a wonderful way to connect and create new memories together. All it takes is some foresight and planning.
Speak with your loved one’s physician
Talk with your loved one’s doctor about their ability to travel before you book your trip. Specifically, ask about:
Their medications and possible side effects
Bringing extra doses of medication in case of a delay coming home
Any specialized medical equipment they might need
Considerations for the area in which you want to travel (such as immunizations and climate)
Whether you need a medical certificate to travel with certain medications.
Plan to bring a few copies of all medical documentation, including medical cards, insurance and your physician’s contact information. Remember to save electronic photos of each on your phone, just in case.
It’s also a good idea to research the areas you’re visiting ahead of time to see if there are pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals or other amenities nearby.
Opt for accessibility
Before you book, check with the hotels, restaurants and attractions you plan to visit to ensure they have accessible features and can accommodate any dietary restrictions and needs. Consider working with a travel agent who specializes in travel for seniors, as they’ll have experience with accessible destinations.
Don’t forget to plan for transportation, too:
Will you need to take transit to get around and if so, is it accessible?
If you’re renting a car, will you need certain disability plates or permits?
What transportation is available to make getting around easier once you’re there?
Being the primary caregiver you’re likely the one doing most of the packing. While it’s tempting to overpack, it’s important not to bring more than you can easily manage. Here are some necessities you should make room for:
Support clothing or devices, such as compression stockings
Loose, comfortable clothing that can be layered
If your loved one has dementia bring notable items from home as something familiar that they can hold on to
If your loved one wanders be sure to pack some sort of wearable identification that includes their name, medical conditions and your contact information.
Plan for change
A shift in daily schedule combined with new activities can be disorienting for your loved one, so make sure that you factor in extra time for them. Remember to ask their opinion about your daily plans and then consider writing out the plan for the day ahead of time to help them keep track of what’s next.
While out and about keep their limitations in mind for activities they may not be able to participate in. Also, make sure there is plenty of room for downtime where you can both stop, rest and relax. Booking separate, but adjoining rooms is a great way to ensure you both have a private space to rest and relax and will allow your loved one to rest as needed throughout the day.
Reach out for help
You’re on vacation, so now more than ever you should feel confident about asking for help. If you’re traveling with additional family members, set aside time for everyone to take turns caring for your loved one.
If you’re traveling alone with your loved one get in touch with a home care agency or adult day care center and discuss your situation and how they can help. Note that not all care agencies perform the same services, so have a candid conversation about what your loved one needs and whether they are able to provide the level of care required. Prearranging these services will give you a break and allow you and your loved one to enjoy the time you do spend together.
Remember to rest
It’s easy to feel guilty for taking the time to rest when responsible for someone else, but a vacation is for recuperation. Take time alone or with your loved one to sit back and simply enjoy the scenery of where you are in the moment. Laugh, share stories together, and soak in the reminders of how much you appreciate one another.