Spring is here and summer is coming. With warm weather comes the thought of vacations and road trips. As people age, though, travel can become more challenging due to mobility issues or increasing anxiety about the idea of traveling long distances.
It’s important for seniors to be able to maintain the ability to travel, though. According to the Global Coalition on Aging, travel has important health and social benefits:
It is well appreciated that those who stay healthy as they age are able to sustain active lifestyles, including traveling into our 70s, 80s and beyond. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the reverse is also true – as one travels, one will be healthier, which is good for the individual as well as for society.
Travel is still within the reach of seniors by being mindful and preparing ahead. When planning trips, seniors should keep some basic travel safety tips in mind:
- Check with your doctor to find out if you need to update your vaccinations.
- Be sure to take your medications on schedule.
- Carry all necessary medications. Keep pills in their original containers.
- Practice good hygiene to protect from infection.
- Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.
A special note of concern for older adults. Traveling long distances can put some people at risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous condition caused by blood clots forming in the legs after sitting for long periods time. Part of the clot can break off, eventually lodging in a lung artery.
It’s vitally important for seniors to take breaks while driving or riding in a car for long periods of time. If on an airplane or train, it’s best to periodically get up and walk around or stretch. Seniors can also exercise their calf muscles and stretch their legs while sitting.
Other Travel Options
If you are an adult child responsible for caring for an aging parent, the thought of them making a trip alone might be a little scary; however, there are resources, such as travel companion services, that can help offer peace of mind to both family caregivers and the seniors who are traveling.
Depending on their needs, a travel companion can assist seniors with day-to-day activities like bathing, dressing, feeding, or medication reminders. Additionally, they can also assist with the logistics of traveling by:
- Providing transportation assistance throughout the trip.
- Helping with airport check-ins. Managing luggage.
- Assisting with going through security or customs.
- Assisting with ground transportation.
Travel for Family Caregivers
The benefits of travel aren’t confined to seniors. Family caregivers can benefit from a respite from the day-to-day burdens of caring for aging loved ones. It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves to protect their health. A vacation can be just what the doctor ordered.
It’s OK to take a break from caregiving for a short trip. Consider asking another family member or a home health care provider to help with parents or loved ones in your absence. Everyone deserves the chance and opportunity to travel.
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