Last year, the holidays looked a little different than they have in the past. Families were having virtual Thanksgiving meals, outdoor gift exchanges, and intimate reunions through glass windows. Despite some concerns about traveling this year, many people are vaccinated and ready to hit the road (and skies) to spend the holidays with their loved ones.
However, it’s still important to prioritize safety while traveling, especially if you’re traveling with an older family member. As eager as you might be to travel again, you can’t just pack a bag and hop on a plane. Traveling with an older adult requires some planning and preparation, which is why HarborChase Senior Living is sharing some safety tips for holiday travel!
HarborChase Senior Living puts the health and safety of older adults first. While planning to travel this holiday season, we encourage you to follow all state and national guidelines regarding COVID-19 procedures and mandates. Even if you are vaccinated, plan all travel with safety precautions in mind.
Prioritize Health & Safety
Before you dive into creating your holiday itinerary, it’s best to speak with your family member’s health care provider about your plans to travel. They are the best resource on your family member’s current condition and whether or not they are cleared to travel. They might recommend a physical exam or updated vaccinations before you travel.
Don’t Forget Medications!
While at the doctor, make sure that your family member’s medications are all up-to-date and refilled before the trip. It can be helpful to create a checklist of all their current prescriptions and keep them all together in a safe place. If you are traveling to a different time zone, ask your family member’s doctor about when they should be taking their medications.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning as much as possible can make sure your trip goes smoothly and safely. Try to think of anything that may impact traveling:
- Does your family member have special dietary needs?
- Will mobility issues impact how they get around?
- Do they need special accommodations at the airport/hotel?
Figuring all this out can require advanced planning, but thinking through every possible factor can prevent hiccups, frustrations, and even hazards during your trip.
Have an Essentials Bag
You may have heard horror stories (or experienced one yourself) about airlines losing people’s luggage. This is why it is highly recommended to keep all your essential items on your person at all times.
For older adults, this usually includes all medications, medical documents, any other required equipment, and personal identification. To make traveling more enjoyable, your essential items should also include snacks, water, games or books, a sweater or blanket, and anything else that might add comfort to the trip.
When packing your essentials bag, think of anything you would immediately need if your other bags were lost. Even if you’re driving, it can be a good idea to pack the essentials in one bag that you can keep easily accessible.
Older adults are at a higher risk for blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). One of the causes of DVTs is sitting still for long periods, such as a long plane or car ride, so older adults traveling are at exceptionally high risk for these blood clots. Fortunately, they can be mostly prevented.
Before you travel, talk with your family member’s doctor about their risk of blood clots; some medications, like blood thinners, heighten this risk even more. Typically, though, DVTs can be prevented by moving around frequently during a long travel day. For example, you can help your family member get up and walk around the plane, or if you’re driving, regularly stop to get out and walk around. Their doctor might even recommend compression stockings as a way to prevent blood clots further.
Stick to a Routine (As Much As Possible)
While traveling during the holidays is certainly about new experiences, adventures, or simply a chance to break away from the daily routine, it’s important not to ignore that routine too much. If possible, try to stick to a somewhat regular schedule with your family member, waking up and going to bed around the same time as usual, and maybe even some afternoon rest time.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
After a challenging year and a holiday season that many spent away from family, people are eager to travel again. Traveling with your older parent or family member may require some extra planning and preparation, but in the end, following these safety tips for holiday travel can ensure a happy and safe holiday season!
HarborChase Senior Living has independent living communities throughout the United States. We wish you and your family a safe holiday season, whether you spend it together or apart. For more tips on senior wellness and safety, visit our blog!