Traveling with Old People, I Mean Aging People…
My grandfather ran five miles a day and played golf until his mid 80’s. My cousin, in her mid-70’s skied weekly in Aspen during the winter months and hiked 14rs in the summer. They are my inspiration and what I will strive to be. So I run. I exercise. I try to take care of myself so I can live life to the fullest – even when I’m older. This isn’t a post on not taking care of yourself, because trust me, I could go on for days about that. Um, just take why I started traveling and writing this blog in the first place…but I digress. Getting older is hard and inevitable but traveling with people who are getting older and/or “aging” might be even harder. (Aging = your body just can’t do what it used to be able to do.)
This I have learned the hard way as I have recently had a few trips with people whom I’ve never considered “old” but now see as “aging”. Thus, the trips I think I’m going on take a major shift in direction. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise, heck, I can’t drink like I could in college but still…it’s just not cool. (Yes, I also mean the fact that I can’t drink like I used to.)
Here are several things to consider the next time you’re traveling with someone who is “aging”. Things I’ve learned and tips people shared with me via Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear more tips you may have, please share in the comments section. (Side note: I would LOVE to blog about my personal travel dramas regarding this topic but I will refrain to keep the peace…)
Know where the closest hospital is.
iTriage is a good app you can download that locates nearby facilities and will even tell you if they take your insurance. It can also help you identify what aliments are and their severity. Seriously, I’ve used this app more times than I’d like to admit – not for me though!
Check Medical Needs at the Hotel
Plan ahead to ensure hotels have the equipment they might need – oxygen tanks, wheelchairs (for long days of sight seeing), and any other items they might need to make sure they are comfortable when they arrive at their destination. If you’re traveling internationally, you should also check to see if the hotel has a doctor on staff who can come to the room if needed.
Be prepared to stay-put.
I’m a do’er and like to go. The Husband finds this annoying when we travel so I have compromised in allowing a few hours a day, or even one day (depending on the length of the trip) to just lay-low. With that said, we don’t typically rent a place where we plan to spend a ton of time. It’s more based on location, function, price and how nice it is. Lesson leaned: when traveling with less active folks, you need to find accommodations you can simply hang out at and be comfortable.
Don’t Eat (or drink) Things You Wouldn’t Eat At Home
This sound silly since when on vacation you’re supposed to try new things. However, if you can’t eat certain types of food at home, what makes you think you can eat them on vacation? And if you don’t usually drink alcohol, don’t start now. Especially at high-altitude. This should be a rule of thumb for most people but when traveling with older folks making a POLITE reminder may be required.
Travel with Meds
If you regularly take medications - or are traveling with someone who does – make sure you have a list of them written down. Common sense but so often overlooked. Think about it, what’s the first question a doctor ask besides what’s wrong? Are you taking any medications right now. They kinda need to know that in order to treat you effectively. Oh, and make sure you – or your travel companion – take enough of your regular medication to last the entire trip.
Insurance and Doctors
Make sure to have doctors information for yourself and your older travel companion programmed into your cell phone in case you need to reach them and if you don’t have your insurance card, pack it. I mean really.
Don’t Push Yourself – Or Your Travel Companions
Parents usually tell their kids to know their limitations; to listen to their body. Time for them to listen to their own words of wisdom… If you or your travel companion don’t regularly (or haven’t done something in 10 years) ski, hike or ride a bike you should not try it the first day of your vacation. The body needs some time to get settled. The key is don’t push your older travel companion…and don’t push yourself.
Get Up and Move
Sitting still for extended periods of time are known risk factors for the development of blood clots in the veins of the legs. Long-haul flights can be a risk factor in susceptible people – overweight, heart disease, etc. On a long flight encourage your older travel companion to get up and walk the aisles, wear loose clothing, don’t drink alcohol, take aspirin, stretch in their seat. (You should do the same.)
Take them – hearing aids that is – and a set of extra batteries. Enough said.
Set Expectations and Be Prepared to Change Them
This goes for both sides – the aging and not aging. What do you want to accomplish or do on the trip? What sights must you see? Where must you eat? Now, be prepared to do none of them and just be with the folks you’re with. Take a book and a deck of cards. Enjoy the views (hopefully) and your surroundings.
Be Prepared For the Role Change
It’s a hard thing for grown kids to shift into and harder for aging parents – letting the grown child be the one who helps take care of the parent. But face it, it’s life. Roles change and if don’t fight it or get angry about it, traveling together can be wonderful! A few great tips around this topic came from Facebook from folks who have traveled a lot with elderly people, I wanted to share.
· Patience, kindness and a sense of humor required…
· Just like when traveling with toddlers – pack lots of snacks.
· Make sure they always receive and keep their dignity. The elderly don’t like to feel that they are handicapped. Always ask first, “would you like some assistance ? Then ask, ” How would you like me to assist you?”. It is the way we were trained to assist the disabled and elderly at SWA. It has also helped me with my parents. It is important for elderly to be given respect. If it isn’t a safe way to assist by their request , then you could say, that is good , but what do you think about this way to assist you?”.
Sit and just be.
While you may be disappointed you didn’t get to eat at the most raved about spot in town, you’re with someone who you may not be able to be with much longer. Enjoy it. Get over what you didn’t get to do… Sit and just be together.
Have any good stories about traveling with someone who is “aging”? Do share since I can’t share mine…remember I’m keeping the peace.