Sometimes you travel because you want to, sometimes because you need to. Regardless, planning a trip these days can be logistical nightmare, especially for caregivers.
Adopting a rather rigid schedule and lifestyle seems to come with the territory when you become the primary caregiver for an elderly loved. Day to day matters can become major exercises. How, then, do you travel? It can be a logistical nightmare, whether the travel is elective or necessary. Understanding some of the challenges and workarounds in advance, however, can make the travel more manageable. The "New Old Age" blog at The New York Times recently offered some food for thought on this important subject.
The big question is whether your elderly parent is traveling with you. For instance, if you will be travelling alone for business or pleasure, then you may need to "replace yourself" while away. Perhaps you already have someone who assists with care. If yes, find out whether they can temporarily stay on full-time since they know your parent and their needs. If no, then contact an in-home care organization, as many offer temporary services. While you are at it, don't overlook assisted-living or nursing homes, too. Many offer temporary stay options. Finally, there is the more difficult (but less expensive) option of coordinating a schedule of volunteer (or recruited) family members and friends. Note: Care must be taken since everyone needs to know the "schedule" and understand the care requirements.
If your elderly loved will be traveling with you – such as for a family vacation or even to a care facility – then there are additional considerations, but at least you will be the one there to run interference. Of course, the first hurdle is whether they can travel. You'll want to contact their doctor to get their opinion. In addition, this will give you a greater appreciation of additional challenges you may not have addressed.
One of the additional hurdles you will need to clear is medications. In fact, running low on a medication mid-trip can be risky at best and deadly at worst. It may be difficult getting a prescription filled, as well. It may be advisable to take extra quantities of virtually everything from pills to Depends.
In regards to other details, make schedules for everything to maintain consistency from meals to rest breaks to bathroom breaks. Remember: When flying, consider asking for a wheelchair in the terminal, even if not expressly needed. Why? The wheelchair can help make transporting your elderly loved one much easier and, on many airlines, it can help you get to the front of the boarding line. And that can make it easier on everyone, to include your fellow passengers.
While the original post has additional ideas and instructions, the general rule of thumb is to think about all the little details and to plan for each of them, whether you're leaving your elderly loved on at home or you're traveling together. It will make a world of difference.
Reference: The New York Times (September 15, 2011) "When It’s Time to Hit the Road"