Keeping Elderly Safe While Traveling

Planning to head back up north or take a vacation?

1.  Research and Plan Ahead - Whether it involves air travel, Amtrak, buses or cruise lines - Seek the most direct and shortest travel times.  Southwest Airlines and Amtrak are one of the view companies offering discount senior fares.  To find other senior-special offers, go online to smartertravel.com.

2.  Request and Reserve Special Services - Request seat assignments in a row designated for disabled travelers.  And importantly, request cost-free wheelchair service at every airport origination, connection and arrival location.  If there are meal services aboard, advise the reservation system of any dietary needs.

If your'e using a RedCap type service, it is your responsibility to arrange this service in advance, you will be expected to tip for the service.

3.  Prepare Documentation - A government passport is accepted as the highest level of identification by federal TSA security officers.  If you or your loved one need a passport, consider applying for one months before travel.  Your local post office will have the applicaiton forms, or you can go online to access them.  AAA and many drug stores offer passport photos.  Personal photos are not acceptable.  Two copies of the photograph must be sent with your application.  Certain states offer "Expedited Passport Services".  They are non government agencies but they handle all of the paperwork, photographs and submission of materials for you for an additional cost.  They can expedite the process, assist with Visas and help with lost or stolen passports as well.

Request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center.

Make at least four photocopy sets of the passport, driver's license, Medicare and insurance card, travel tickets and itinerary, boarding pass, plus any physician prescription and/or statement.  One complete set is placed in your loved one's carry-on bag, another in his or her roller back, one set is forwarded to family at the arrival destination and one is left at home.

Provide a pay-as-you-go cell phone with a predetermined number of minutes on it and program your number as the first emergency number.

4.  Be Practical When Packing - Pack light.  For a person traveling with at least some limitations, aim to pack everything in a roller bag and a medium-size carry-on.  All prescription and over-the-counter medications should be placed in a one quart zip-lock freezer bag, including copies of any prescriptions and/or physician statements in the carry-on.  Do not place the pill combinations separately into a separate plastic box as "the next combined dosage", this likely will not get through security.  If your loved one is toting gifts, remember not to have them wrapped.

5.  Think about Safety, Security and Comfort - Thieves are everywhere, particularly in high-traffic centers.  Instead of carrying a purse, use a money belt worn under a blouse or a neat passage wallet hidden under a coat by a neck cord.  Otherwise, a wallet secured to pants via a cord.

Always keep your carry-on between our feet when standing or with the shoulder strap looped around the leg of a chair or seat.

For comfort, consider a neck pillow.

Don't forget to forward or hold the mail, inform friends locally that your loved one will be leaving so they can check in on the house, water the plants or take care of pets.

6.  Arrange Medication Management - Transportation staff have no obligation regarding the medical dosing of your loved one. However, you can ask in advance that at a specified time (stated in local time), the staff remind your loved one to take the medication.  The alternative is to provide your loved one with a alarm watch.

7.  Plan for Security Checkpoints - Brief your loved one to mention any medical condition that may set off security device metal detectors such as a surgical hip, knee implant etc.  To avoid unwanted delays, get a physician's statement about the implanted steel and make sure your loved one has the documentation with them.  Often times security is quicker for those in wheels chairs, a want may be used when he or she is seated instead of a metal detector or LiveScan machine.  Dress your loved one in easily-removed (but safe) walking shoes.  Explain to your loved one that the security process is vital to his or her safety.

8.  Consider Destination and Travel Options - The world of travel is open to just about everyone, even those elderly loved ones receiving care.  Start a discussion with your loved one to learn his or her travel wishes.  Determine if your loved one can travel solo or if you want or need to share in the adventure.  Start with the mission of fulfilling your loved one's dream; not just a destination that is cheapest.

9.  Consider Tours and Cruises - Tours and cruises offer a unique service in that they are totally planned, operated and staffed to deliver the promised program and destination discovery.  Several tour operators, including Accessible Journeys, Flying Wheels and Elder Hostel, specialize in "accessible lifestyle vacations," which cater to those with special needs or disabilities.  Cruise and tour accommodations are priced on a per-person basis based on double-occupancy.

10.  Ensure Those at The Destination are Prepared - If your loved one is traveling alone, schedule a conference call with your relatives to go over the caregiving support for your loved ones needs.  Advise on your approach in assisting your loved one, so they do not assume to take the domineering and dictating role.  Advise of your loved one's favorite food and activities so they can try and accommodate these during the visit, making it all the more "like home."  Importantly, advise of your loved one's medical condition  and medication regimen that must be followed and make sure they have all the important legal documents with them should an emergency arise (Advance Directive should be with them).

On the day of travel, arrive at the airport or other transportation two hours early, to visit with your loved one without pressure.  Share a meal or a snack, review the travel plan and itinerary and use a wheelchair-capable restroom shortly before heading to the gate.

Call us now for a free assessment 1-844-264-3522 and see how were transforming in- home health care by focusing on the needs of the entire family as well as those of the patient.

Let our Family Care for Yours,

- Angel Care Nurse Registry

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