Doctor Marion: A Few Tips for Traveling with the Elderly

Traveling broadens everyone’s experience, and being prepared enhances the experience even more. has a great checklist that you can use to prepare for a trip. Make sure that your loved one has an itinerary, clear directions, and all necessary personal and medical supplies in hand. This includes any special snacks in case it may be difficult to make timely meal stops. Also consider bringing an extra pair of comfortable shoes and a portable pillow. These personalized items can make a big difference. Remember that it could also be important to stop frequently for rest periods. It’s hard to have fun when you’re tired or you need a comfort or toilet break, so make sure you take this into consideration. If your loved one is in a wheelchair, you have to make sure that where you’re going can accommodate a wheelchair. I’m talking about places like a restaurant, a movie theater, or a museum. When a restaurant says it is wheelchair accessible, where is the entrance? Do they have a wheelchair parking spot? That’s vital if someone has a cane or a walker. My big pet peeve is when you have to go around the side or the back of an establishment and then enter through the kitchen or where the garbage is kept. That’s not dignified. Some places have a wheelchair bathroom, but there’s no real way to get in and out of it comfortably. Some follow the law to make the opening three feet by three feet, but the design does not take into account the reality of bringing a wheelchair in and out of a space that tight. Many times, handicapped elevators don’t work, leaving some elderly with nowhere to turn. Call ahead when possible to be sure the elevator is working. The bottom line is this: If it’s too difficult to get to an establishment, don’t bother going there. Many other places will have the common sense and dignity to provide easy access to your elder. If your loved one flies, be sure to order a wheelchair. It’s a great way to make traveling easier. Most airports and airlines today are very prepared to meet the needs of the elderly, so you should always take advantage of these free services. Related Resources from Trips for Traveling with an Older Adult Out of Home Safety Traveling with an Adult with Alzheimer’s or Dementia