Helping Older Adults Manage the Outside World
Travel and Older Adults
Statistics tell us that active older adults are healthier older adults. Because they get so much out of the experience, it's a good idea to encourage vacations and trips when possible. Research the many books, organizations, and websites geared toward travel for older adults.
Elderhostel organizes terrific moderately priced adventure and learning programs -- including astronomy, zoology, and just about everything in between -- for people over the age of 55. There are many other travel agencies that specialize in travel for older adults.
For information about older adult and special-needs travel (including transportation, lodging, discounts, and wheelchair and scooter rental, among other things), visit The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers can connect you with English-speaking doctors in almost any foreign country.
Check with airlines, trains, car rental agencies, and hotels about senior discounts.
How about a free vacation? Various government agencies as well as individual state park systems welcome older volunteers to work as campground hosts in exchange for free lodging. Your parents could volunteer for a day or a year. Contact National Park Service for more information.
You'll be thrilled to know that once your parents reach the age of seventy-five, their ski lift tickets are usually free!
Keep a travel bag in the car with the supplies and provisions you need often: a small bottle of water, wet wipes, and an extra pair of sunglasses, for example.
Make your own wet wipes by placing damp washcloths in plastic bags that seal.
Those little handheld fans can be a lifesaver if Mom has to wait in line for any period in a stuffy room or if it's hot out. Try to buy the kind that has a spray attachment for water so she gets a cool mist as well as a breeze.
Before you and your parents travel to a foreign country, make sure you know about illnesses you might encounter in the country you're visiting. Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers.
Because older adults are more susceptible to childhood and local diseases as well as the flu and pneumonia, it's important to consult a doctor about immunizations before setting off on vacations. In addition to getting your loved one those immunizations required by immigration laws, you should ask about other illnesses common to older travelers.
Before you take a trip, call your loved one's medical insurer to make sure that coverage will remain in place while you are traveling.
If Dad has special needs where lodging is concerned (such as wheelchair accessibility, specific types of linens), call ahead to make sure the room and grounds will accommodate his needs.
When traveling, always keep a list of important medical information with you: medications and their dosages, your loved one's doctor's name and phone number, insurance information, and someone to contact in case of emergency. Personal identification should be carried at all times. Even if you're traveling without your loved one, keep important information (his doctors' phone numbers, a list of his medications) handy in case long-distance caregiving becomes necessary.