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Are you stressing at the idea of Travelling with an Elderly Relative? Here at Vermont Aged Care, we know that elderly people can get bored with the humdrum of everyday life. Consequently, breaks such as visits and travel can provide a welcome diversion to daily routine. If you are caring for a loved one who is elderly, you may find the following tips helpful.

The planning stage

So you’re thinking about taking mum or dad on a trip or vacation. What a great idea. Everyone will enjoy it if everybody knows what to do and the planning is carried out well. Remember that elderly people are less likely to enjoy travelling on a whim. They can be less flexible about change than the younger members of the family. That is why talking and planning about a possible trip beforehand is important. This will prevent any form of anxiety and allay their fears. Make sure the proposed trip is something they will enjoy and they will not feel like a captive audience. It might be to visit distant relatives, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. Above all, it should be an opportunity to create wonderful new memories.

The practicalities

Whether you are planning to travel by car, or by plane, certain practical details must be attended to. If you are planning to travel by car over more than one day remember to select the most direct and shortest travel routes. Firstly, do a bit of research and see what is available to make short toilet and refreshment breaks. Next, book overnight stays at places where your loved one will be comfortable. Especially if they are in a wheelchair ensure there are ramps at your destination. Ask if they provide handrails in the bath or shower. If you are travelling by plane let the airline know if they are on restricted diets. Also if they need wheelchair accommodation.

Don’t forget to ask about senior discounts whether that be fares or accommodation. After all, travel can be expensive and every little bit helps. However, you may be going to stay with family or friends. If that is the case, they too may appreciate a head’s up on dietary needs. That will make meal planning easier for them. Let them know if your loved one has certain foods and beverages that they particularly enjoy.

Medical checks

It is a good idea to speak to their doctor about the proposed trip. Getting a green light from them will set everybody’s mind at rest. They can make valuable recommendations and give helpful advice. Make sure you pack their prescriptions and extra medication. Also, things such as a neck pillow will ensure they are comfortable and travel well.  Another item that will come in handy is a knee rug. Don’t forget hydration, so do pack water, juice and perhaps tea and coffee in a thermos flask. Provide some snacks for in between mealtimes.

Some people suffer from car sickness, and the front passenger seat is the best place if that is the case. Try to anticipate and prepare for any unexpected things that might happen. After all no one knows them better than you do. It might not be a good idea to take them somewhere where they feel out of their depth, such as too much walking for instance. Or somewhere that is noisy if they don’t like noise.

Packing tips

Firstly, this will depend on where you are going. Whether the weather will be warm or cold. Also, remember that elderly people often feel both heat and cold more acutely. So remember to pack accordingly. However, light practical packing is the best solution for an elderly person. But things such as a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are essential. Also, ask their opinion and make sure you pack things they love and that are important to them. Such as, the book they may currently be reading. Or that walking stick that makes them feel safe and secure. How about a Camera or video recorder? A lovely album to put together upon your return home will provide them with hours of enjoyment. And mementos to send to family and friends. Remember to put any essential items inside the car rather than the boot for easy access. If they are able to use one, a mobile phone is useful. Make sure your phone number is in the emergency sector of the phone.

The trip

Remember that elderly people often like a daily routine. They are used to regular waking, sleeping and mealtimes at home. They might become distressed if they are suddenly subjected to a completely disrupted routine. After all the most important thing is that they should enjoy the trip as much as everyone else. That might not happen if they are upset. If you are travelling by car, and they begin to show signs of fatigue you may like to attend to that sooner rather than later. For instance, they may need to stretch their legs or use the restroom. Some fresh air, a nice cup of tea and a snack is probably all they would need.

However if you are travelling by plane, a visit to the airport restroom before flying will be helpful. Aeroplane toilets are very narrow. Furthermore make sure the flight duration is within their limitations. A money belt can be helpful if they would like one. Also, think of little things such as a hanky, or tissues. If they wear glasses, a spectacle chain around their neck will keep them handy. When moving around, check to see if they have forgotten something behind.

The arrival at your destination

Finally, you have arrived! Everyone is happy and relieved. The trip went well and joy is all around. Remember to make sure they are not overstretched and overtired. Otherwise they may not sleep well. Re-establish their normal routine as soon as possible. Make sure they do not feel like a burden. If for instance they can’t always join in on certain activities, that might be too strenuous for them, ensure there is something else to occupy their time. And do not leave them alone if they are uncomfortable with that. As usual, check their medication. Leave lights on between their bedroom and the bathroom at night. Check that all safety precautions are in place. Furthermore, you may have to help them with unusual foods. Perhaps they need help cutting their meat. Ensure activities they enjoy are included in the program.

Having done all you can, everyone relax, have fun and enjoy your family vacation!

This blog is intended to provide helpful advice. Please speak with your family GP for personalised information or, for specialist advice & support in Melbourne Australia, please contact VERMONT AGED CARE: 770 Canterbury Road, Vermont, Victoria, Australia 3133. Phone: +61 03-9873 5300. Email:

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