Even though taking vacation time is proven to improve physical health, mental health, relationship and work performance, more than half of Americans fail to take their vacation time. Because of this, we recently urged you to go on vacation.
Even if you find it easy to leave the office behind, it is not so simple to leave behind an aging loved one. There are many concerns – safety, emotional distress, medication regimens – that may make the caregiver wonder if they will ever be able to get away. Today, we’re going to consider the possibility of vacationing with your loved one. Alternately, in our next blog we will share with you how it is possible to take a vacation while your loved one is cared for at home (but feel free to call us if you cannot wait for that answer).
If your aging loved one is coming along on vacation, here are a few things to remember:
- Carefully consider their abilities and comfort. Discuss your loved one’s physical, cognitive, and emotional condition with them, the family and their healthcare team. Are they able to travel the distance, stay comfortably in the accommodations, keep up the pace and adjust to the change in routine?
- Plan for needed medication. Check to ensure there is enough medication on hand, including “as needed” medication such as inhalers or pain medications. Obtain refills if needed. While it may be tempting to use pill organizers, it may be wise to prevent mistakes by leaving pills in their original bottles. It is sometimes possible to acquire smaller bottles for travel. Ask the doctor or pharmacist.
- Plan for their comfort and ease. Compression socks help with the prevention of swelling and blood clots. Consider what else they may need to stay comfortable and mobile. Think about special seating, bedding, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask in advance for special accomodations. For example, hotels offer ADA rooms with wheel-in showers.
- Prevent vacation blunders. Little things can spoil the trip. All travelers should remember to wear sunscreen and a hat/sunglasses, drink lots of water, take plenty of stretching breaks and eat regularly. These simple things can ward off many aches, pains and unwanted issues.
- Plan for small emergencies. Remember the old adage, “if something can possibly go wrong, it will.” This applies to lost luggage, broken glasses and motion sickness. Always be prepared.
- Plan for larger emergencies. It’s also wise to be ready for the unlikely accident or medical emergency. Bring along insurance and Medicare cards, as well as a list of medications, medical procedures and conditions, and emergency information.
- Plan to relax. Everyone on the trip should get adequate amounts of rest. Consider how much more quickly an aging loved one becomes tired, even at home. No one can afford to burn the candle at both ends and expect to return home refreshed. Take time for everyone to relax.
Now is the time to start planning a vacation!