Summer is finally here, which means that it’s time to start planning the annual summer vacation. However, if you have an aging or ill loved one who requires additional care, planning a trip might seem stressful, and you may even question whether or not it’s worth it.  While traveling with an ill or aging loved one does provide a different set of challenges, it doesn’t have to hold you back. With the right preparations, you can help your loved one enjoy a relaxing vacation with no setbacks or frustrations.

Tips for Traveling with An Ill or Aging Loved One:

Consult your loved one’s primary care physician. This should be the crucial first step before even planning a trip. Get approval from their doctor and ensure that they are cleared for travel. Use this opportunity to speak with them about any specific concerns or risks in traveling, and to make sure that your loved one is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations and has refills to any prescriptions.

Pack lightly and wisely. The less you have to carry, the more easily you can help your loved one carry their items or get around. Make sure to have all necessary items within reach at all times—this includes medication (plus copies of prescriptions), water and snacks, emergency phone numbers, sunscreen, and important documentation (passport, Medicare card, and travel insurance).

Arrange all accommodations in advance. If you’re worried about traveling through an airport with your loved one, it can be extremely helpful to contact the airline ahead of time and request advanced boarding or disabled seating. You can also request first floor rooms at hotels, wheelchair accessible rental cars, and audio players at museums and exhibits. Planning all of this in advance allows for ease and efficiency on the day of and helps ensure your loved one gets the most out of their experiences.

Be flexible, patient, and understanding. Allow for plenty of time between one activity and the next, and avoid tight schedules and rushed itineraries. It’s also important to always be adaptable to changes in schedules to accommodate your loved one’s energy and wellness level. Be realistic and patient about how much activity they can or can’t do, and adjust your plans to their capabilities.

Be prepared for emergencies. If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar destination, research the closest hospitals and medical centers. Also, bring contact information for your primary care physicians and other doctors at home. Have an emergency plan in place and make sure that your loved one has a way of contacting you at all times, even if you’re not planning on splitting up.

While traveling with an aging or ill loved one certainly requires more work and planning, it can still be a rewarding experience and a great memory to share. With the right planning and precautions, your summer vacation will be a worry-free, cherished experience for all involved.

If you are thinking about taking a vacation with your aging and ill loved one, Hospice of South Texas can offer more specific help and recommendations for those in our care. Hospice of South Texas delivers comfort, peace and heartfelt care to those whose lives have been touched by serious illness, so you can regain the moments that matter. Call us at our Victoria office at 361.572.4300 or our Hallettsville office at 361.798.2077 to learn more.