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Plan ahead to reduce stress when traveling with older adults

With the holiday season upon us, many families will be traveling to spend time with loved ones far away. These journeys, while enjoyable, can be stressful and exhausting, and they can be especially difficult for older family members. Seniors who have grown accustomed to the comfort and routines of their own home may find busy roads, crowded airports or unexpected changes in plan overwhelming.

This sense of anxiety can often be most troubling for older adults living with memory problems or conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, who can become frustrated and frightened when faced with changes in their regular routines. Travelers should make the comfort and care of their older companions a top priority as they venture out for the holidays.

Travelers should have a plan in place before leaving home, in order to minimize the stress on older companions. Creating a written schedule is a good idea. Including those older companions in the creation of that schedule helps them to feel like they are a part of the planning process and lets them know what to expect. This helps to reduce travel anxiety.

It’s also a good idea to have all necessary medications organized and kept in a place where they are easy to access when needed. Copies of medical records, prescription doses and schedules, and other important documents should be made and packed in a safe place. That way they can be available easily if they are needed in an emergency while traveling.

Many companies are willing to make special accommodations for families traveling with older adults. Many airlines reserve special seating for passengers with disabilities, which makes it easier for loved ones who rely on walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility devices. If hotel reservations have been made, travelers will want to speak to management about accommodations for guests with mobility issues, as well as any dietary restrictions, if they plan to use room service or dine at the hotel restaurant.

The threat of COVID-19 should also be taken into consideration when traveling with elderly loved ones. Many parts of the country are still dealing with high rates of the disease, and travelers should be aware of the risks and if their travel plans include high-risk areas for COVID. Precautions against the virus should be taken, such as wearing masks, social distancing when possible, proper hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

People planning to travel with older adults should ask themselves if their older companions are well enough to fight through COVID-19 if they are exposed.

Another way to reduce the effects of stress and exhaustion on elderly travelers is to let them take their time. Rushing around in airports or racing to make dinner reservations can lead to increased anxiety and frustration in seniors, especially those who may not understand why they are in such a hurry or may be unable to move quickly. This can make the trip miserable for everyone. Those traveling with seniors should allow extra time for unexpected delays.

Information provided by Visiting Angels, America’s choice in homecare. Visiting Angels non-medical homecare services allow people to continue enjoying the independence of their daily routines in familiar surroundings.

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