A few years back, my then-93 year old grandfather decided he wanted to take a trip to Switzerland. He talked for months about the whole family heading over there for rides on their 186 mph rail systems, exploring the beautiful countryside, and learning about its rich history. Why? It had always been on his wish list, and he wanted to go. Never mind the fact that he was in his mid-90s; I don’t think his age even crossed his mind. His desire for that trip has been our inspiration for today’s Homecare Advocate post, traveling with seniors.
Retirement isn’t about sitting in the recliner watching game shows with the window shades drawn. For many, it’s the time to DO THINGS they’ve been waiting their whole lives for. They spent the first part working hard, saving, and building towards retirement. Now they can pick up a new hobby, travel, spend time with loved ones, and create.
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”–Stephen Covey. Traveling as a senior may be different than traveling as a 20-year old, but it can be just as fulfilling and rewarding. Focus on how to achieve your main goals, and don’t get discouraged if it takes some creative planning due to your changing physical circumstances. Assess your needs, and build from there.
A great example of this are the Burgers. Nancy and Nate Burger have a wonderful Web site that details their extraordinary adventures across the globe. Nancy, a stroke survivor with physical and developmental disabilities, has traveled with her husband across “the world, been on all 7 continents, and in more countries than I can name without a World Atlas”. Oceans and rainforests could not stop this wheelchair-bound woman and her devoted husband. They encourage others with disabilities, providing tips on traveling and showing what is possible when you keep focused. Their Web site is chalked full of good, practical advice for trip planning such as this tidbit on what to pack: “As soon as you start to plan a trip, begin to make a list of all the things you touch during the day. Do this for a number of days, then eliminate the duplicates and get down to core items. These are the ones to concentrate on.” Click here to read more from the Burgers.
Here are some of our own time-tested travel tips:
- Talk to your doctor in advance, describing activities in detail
- Get a letter from your doctor documenting your condition, prescriptions, etc
- Talk to your medical equipment provider about what company to get equipment/services through in case you need assistance
- Consider renting medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or trapeze bars
- Plan ahead, and book early for accessible rooms/vehicles/seats
- Educate the hotel, travel agent, and others in detail about your needs (in advance) so that they may find accessible options for you
- If you use a mobility device or oxygen, be sure your transportation can accommodate it
- Be flexible in your schedule, listening to your body and needs
- Before booking activities, check cancellation policies, the terrain, and duration of the event
- Pack your medications (with a few days extra) in your carry-on bag
- Pack light, and prioritize items you may not be able to find at your destination (disposable supplies, wound care items, etc)
Check with your local Home Medical Equipment company (like Lambert’s) on how to meet your needs while traveling. For example, our company offers complimentary portable oxygen tanks that meet FDA approval for our oxygen customers who are flying. They can also offer you guidance on helpful travel items such as compression hose to reduce in-flight swelling.
Happy trails to you!