Remember the summer vacations your parents took you on when you were younger? Giving back by taking the time to travel with your loved one can be a great present. Although some seniors may be independent enough to take care of the daily essentials, many don’t regularly leave home, their assisted living center or nursing home, apart from holidays and special events. Even though an experienced caregiver can help get a senior out of the house, it may be up to family and friends to coordinate fun travels outside of daily routines.
The trip can be a stay-cation, which is a day trip to an art venue, park or other local tourist attraction, or a longer holiday further away or abroad. No matter what the travel plans may be, here are some suggestions to consider in order make the experience as comfortable as possible for an aging loved one – and everyone else!
- Plan for rest breaks. If you’re traveling by car and anticipate a lengthy drive, plan out rest stops on a map or look for hotels to stay at along the way and reserve them in advance. Even if the drive takes less than a day, plan on pulling over once every two to three hours at rest stops or restaurants to allow for bathroom or snack breaks and the opportunity to stretch the legs.
- Enjoy the drive. If there are points of interest or scenic views along the way, stop to look at them. Take photographs to capture the memory! For loved ones that aren’t as technologically savvy, remember to print hard copies of photos once the trip is over.
- Embrace the familiar spots. Most of us are comfortable with certain routines and have particular loyalties. The same goes for the aging. If your father loves a certain restaurant or type of food, try to find something close near your destination to provide him a familiar place away from home. And if your mother has a specific sleeping schedule, help her keep up regular routines by planning accordingly.
- Music for the drive. Is your loved one a fan of country-western music, or do they prefer classical? Bring some CDs of his or her favorite artist to soothe or invigorate the driving experience.
- Talk about their past. Help your loved recall fond memories by asking them questions about their youth. The drive is a nice opportunity to connect with your loved one and reminiscing actually engages the brain, too!
Need ideas for day trips? Try going for a Sunday drive on a scenic route, or visit a zoo, the beach or other friends and relatives! These tips and ideas can assist in getting an older person out of the home and engaged with the community around them. Ask your loved one for new destination ideas that they will enjoy or locations he or she has appreciated before. For more travel tips, read “8 Tips for Traveling with a Senior Loved One”.
Wherever your journey takes you and your loved one, be sure to plan for all contingencies, be patient, and enjoy this precious opportunity to make lasting, loving memories together.