Vacationing with Seniors

April 16, 2011
A Family Vacation with Seniors May Take a Bit of Extra Packing — And Planning!

  “Vacation!  Everybody needs one!”

Our family vacations consisted of three daughters stuffed in the back seat of a sedan with Dad at the wheel and Mom holding it together in the front seat.

I don’t know if it was because we lived in Texas and we were tempted by the vastness of the Great West, but our travel itinerary consisted of driving and driving with a bit more driving mixed in for adventure.   We saw lots of great views….from the windows.  And, our parents encouraged us to soak in the scenery with reminders of “Girls, wake up!  You might never see this part of the country again!”

Our trips were fast and furious, but they were fun and we have great memories of our misadventures.

Today, our family tries to include our parents in our own travel adventures.  However, we know that travelling with senior parents is a bit different than tagging along in the back seat as a kid. 

Here’s a list of some things to consider while planning your summer outings with seniors:

Know your parents’ schedule and pace.  It’s nice to have an agenda, but it’s even better to schedule down time and rest days.

Rent a condo or vacation home instead of a hotel.  A rental home or condominium provides plenty of room for relaxation and privacy.  Additionally, a kitchen allows for healthy snacks and a flexible dining schedule.  A quiet dinner at home will certainly provide decompression time following a hectic day touring the local museum or shopping gallery.

Evaluate your parents’ abilities and consider the physical location and area terrain.  A town or city with amenities such as public transportation may provide better mobility than the rugged outdoors with a hilly terrain.

Keep agendas flexible and loosely plan days. Scheduling rest days and providing several options may help the senior choose activities based on their energy level.  And offering choices may help your senior parent avoid feeling like a “wet blanket” if their day’s energy level doesn’t match the mood of only one activity.

Contact local health care centers upon arrival.  Obtain numbers and addresses of local health professionals, as well as maintaining an information card with your senior’s healthcare information from home.

Carry copies of passports.  Each family member should have a copy of everyone’s passport page, along with their own pocket money.

Pack together.  It’s easier to share toiletries, appliances and other items if packing is done together.   And, packing light makes it easier for everyone to transfer luggage!

Take time to enjoy!  Vacations offer a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with our parents in a very unique way.  Quiet evenings and a relaxed setting encourage a time for sharing our past, present, and future plans with one another.

What is your favorite vacation memory?  Please share your memories and vacation ideas with our readers.

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