If you’re a caregiver you might think it’s too much trouble to take a vacation with an elderly parent who requires special care. In fact, with a little planning, you can still get away and have an enjoyable time. Here are some helpful tips:
Keep it simple. If your parent has limited mobility, renting a one-story lake-front cottage a few hours away will be more enjoyable than a trip overseas or a cross-country road trip with several stops.
Take care of special needs. If driving, consider renting a larger vehicle to accommodate equipment or for comfort. Inform your airline or hotel about special requirements, such as a wheelchair, meals, or first floor lodging or adjoining suites.
Think ahead. Find out as much as you can about your destination before you go. Locate medical facilities, pharmacies, and grocery stores.
Bring prescriptions. If your trip involves flying, be sure that medication is in its original container. And double-check with the pharmacist about any side effects, such as exposure to the sun or interaction with certain foods.
Pack appropriately. Take along support stockings for extended road trips or flights and a backup of medical supplies. Have snacks and plenty of water on hand.
Minimize distractions and maximize familiarity. Being away from home may be confusing to a parent with dementia. Bring a few favorite objects to create a sense of home, and try to maintain your loved one’s routine as much as possible.
Plan shifts. You might be the primary caregiver at home, but remind your family that this is your vacation, too. Set up a schedule so that everyone who’s old enough has a few hours where he or she is responsible for your parent.
Line up help at your destination. If your parent needs help with personal care or has a condition that requires skilled nursing care, contact a home health care agency to arrange for services from a home health aide or nurse. And check in as to whether there are any adult day care centers nearby.
Pace yourself. Your elderly relative might not be able to keep up with certain activities, so be sure to schedule rest and downtime into your trip. And don’t forget to take full advantage of the lulls, too—after all, you’re on vacation.