Shared Adventures: Including Seniors in Your Travel Plans
Published August 18, 2016 by Francesca Robinson, MA in At Home Caregiving, Senior Celebrations
The 13 of us made quite the entrance into Magic Kingdom. Our 4-generation family group included three children under the age of three, an 86 year old, two strollers, and a wheelchair. We all posed smiling in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Minnie and Mickey Mouse t-shirts; our three-day adventure at the Disney World theme parks was about to begin.
Our trip included parades, dance parties, rides, characters, shows and lots and lots of pictures, and through it all Grandmother was able to enjoy every minute. 13 of us would wait in line to ride Buzz Light Year’s Space Ranger Spin, Jungle Cruise, and It’s a small World together (to name a few) helping Grandmother on and off the rides. Some people expressed surprise at the fact that Grandmother flew down to join us on our Disney World adventure, yet the trip was made complete by her presence.
I firmly believe it is vitally important to include senior loved ones in activities, trips, and adventures. While the experience may require some adjustments, the inclusion benefits everyone involved. I love that my daughter will be able to look at pictures of the trip and see her Great-Grandmother laughing at her silly antics. It’s memories that will stay with us forever.
When planning for a trip here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Encourage your senior loved one to come along. Sometimes its not enough to simply ask, encouragement is needed. A trip or activity may require a senior loved one to venture out of their normal routine, which can feel overwhelming, or they may fear slowing down others and hesitate in joining the trip. Communicating your desire to have them come and your willingness to plan accordingly can go a long way in easing any anxiety or hesitancy.
2. Plan ahead and request necessary special services. Book flights and accommodations with your senior loved one in mind. If necessary, make sure rooms are accessible for wheelchairs. Book your flight in advance and search for the shortest and most direct route. Request necessary assistance and seat assignments for disabled travelers in advance.
3. Help your senior loved one pack. Make a list of necessary items. Be sure to include important medical documentation, reconciled medications, appropriate clothing for the destination, and anything else your loved one may need to feel comfortable and at home.
4. Don’t forget the small things. Often it is the small details that only you know about that make the difference in your loved one’s comfort. For example, Grandmother needed her own space and access to a television where she could stay current with the national news. She was happy on the days we weren’t in the theme parks to rest and get caught up on the news. Another example, is Grandmother wanted to buy gifts for her other great-grandchildren that weren’t on the trip, making a plan for her to do that made her needs and desires a priority.
5. Know your limits. Be mindful of the capabilities of your senior loved one, as well as your own. Consider bringing a senior care aide or companion for additional support.
The best adventure is a shared adventure. Happy Travels!
What tips do you have for traveling with your senior loved one?
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Francesca Robinson, MA
Helping seniors age in place, with dignity & grace.