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By Leonard J. Hansen
8. Consider Destination and Travel Options
The world of travel is open to just about everyone, even those elderly parents receiving care. Start a discussion with Mom or Dad to learn her or his travel wishes. Determine if your parent can travel solo, or if you want or need to share in the adventure. Start with the mission of fulfilling a parent's dream; don't just go online to find cheap air tickets.
9. Consider Tours and Cruises
There are thousands of tour and cruise possibilities. 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 tours operators, including Accessible Journeys and Flying Wheels, specialize in "accessible lifestyle vacations," which cater to those with special needs and disabilities.
Cruise and tour accommodations are priced on a per-person basis based on double-occupancy. Therefore, if choosing a tour or cruise, travel with your Mom or Dad to provide caregiving assistance while in the room and during non-programmed times. A cruise or tour may be the ultimate escape and very civilized adventure.
10. Ensure Those at The Destination are Prepared
If your parent is flying solo to visit other family, schedule a telephone conference with your relatives to go over the caregiving support your elder needs. Advise of your approach in assisting Mom or Dad, so that they do not assume to take the domineering and dictating role. Advise of your parent's favorite foods and activities so that they can try to be accommodating during the visit, making it all the more "like home" for Mom or Dad. And, importantly, advise of the medical and medication regimen that must be followed. Also make sure that they have all important legal documents with them should an emergency arise (for example, if you are listed as their agent for the Advance Directive, be certain this information is with them should something happen).
On the day of travel, arrive at the airport or other transportation two hours early, to visit with your parent without pressure, share a meal or snack, review the travel plan and itinerary and, importantly, to use the wheelchair-capable restroom shortly before heading to the gate. The latter should reduce the need for your parent to access the small restroom during travel.
Travel with Mom or Dad. You may find it to be one of the best experiences of your life. Yes, you continue to be a caregiver, but your travel and destination will probably prove to be an escape, a freedom because of the new setting, environment and opportunity.
Travel safely and well.