This article gives ten ways to help achieve a safe and joyful air travel experience with your elderly parent. This is based on personal experience with my own 91-year-old mother. After having some rather stressful trips with my mother, I have made conscious efforts to create more joy in our travels. My goal was to reduce the frustration for my mother and for myself.
1. Include your parent in the planning stage of making reservations for rooms.
Some parents prefer having a separate room. Others like the security of sharing a room.
2. Review procedures for closing out their residence prior to leaving.
Stop paper, mail, etc. Make sure there are no appointments lined up for the time period of the trip.
3. Plan to travel on a day ahead of the main activities of the trip.
This time gives space for transition to the new environment and rest from the trip.
4. Arrange with the hotel/motel for adjoining rooms if you are in separate rooms.
This gives you the opportunity for easy connecting. Even keeping the key for your parent could be helpful. Doors are usually very heavy and are not easy to handle. Better to have your parent wait in the room until you are with them.
5. Go over the procedures for contacting the front desk so that the security of having help nearby is there.
Caution against opening the door thinking it could be family. Rely on the phone for connection if you don't have the key to their room.
6. If agreeable for your parent, arrange ahead of time for a wheelchair.
Distances in the airport are LONG and there is so much confusion everywhere. Being in the wheelchair takes away that stress for your parent.
AND you can zip through the security lines when you are with a wheelchair passenger!
7. Take along extra reading material for your parent to make the waiting time go faster.
Something you have may be more interesting since it is different from what your parent usually reads.
8. Take along a nightlight so that there is safety at night for going to the bathroom.
So many elderly people have falls which lead to inactivity which leads to degeneration of the body.
Having light at night is a great safety precaution against falls.
9. Be careful not to pack the schedule too tight.
Leave room for naps when necessary.
Take along plenty of reading for yourself so that you are not impatient waiting.
10. When returning home, check over their residence to make certain all is in shape for reentry.
Make certain lights are working. Check for any leaks in water lines. Ask if there is anything that you can do for them before you leave. Coming home after a trip is another important transition.
By Suzanne Holman
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