Traveling is no doubt stressful. Standing in lines at stations and airports, getting stuck in crowds, uncomfortable seating, dry and processed travel food, weather changes, and catching a travel bug are just the tip of the iceberg of bad things that one can experience on vacation. The stress around traveling is universal, but when you’re a senior citizen with disabilities? That’s a different situation entirely, especially in these times.
Most senior citizens spend their retirement traveling, but existing medical conditions and disabilities require a more careful hand when it comes to planning a trip. This does not mean you have to leave them at home. Here are some tips to ensure that traveling with a disabled senior citizen goes as smoothly as possible.
First things first: get your travel documents in order.
In the face of a pandemic, regulations regarding travel have changed, so it would be wise to prepare documents like vaccination certificates and medical clearances beforehand. Different states and airlines have different requirements for domestic and international travel, so look at a guide of travel requirements and organize them before going on a trip.
Things to remember before traveling with your elderly:
- Ask ahead about accessibility features. Most transport companies and carriers are required to give special assistance to the elderly and passengers with different needs. Every company offers different levels of assistance, so it would be best to call at least a month or two ahead while you’re in the planning stages.
- Know the local laws. Laws like the The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) has improved the overall travel experience not just for passengers with disabilities, but also those without. Check regulations regarding accessibility for senior citizens and disabled persons before booking a ticket, and call to clear some things up.
- Get special seating. Most airlines offer special seating and assistance for passengers in wheelchairs. For able-bodied senior citizens, picking an aisle seat would be better so getting up to use the bathroom won’t be difficult.
- Incorporate longer layovers. Keep your schedule open for longer layovers and rest times, as elderly bodies require more rest than younger adults, so what may not seem stressful to you can actually be exhausting for them.
- When you need help, ask for it. Airline and other transport attendants will always be glad to help you out! People will be more than willing to help you out, transport attendant or not. Nothing is too much when it comes to special needs, so when someone extends a helping hand. feel free to take it.
- Involve them every step of the way. Communicate with your senior about travel plans and ask for their opinions on what they’d like to do and experience. This will make them feel involved, and you’ll be able to keep their wants and needs (like food and recreational activities) in mind.
A little extra planning goes a long way when you travel with the elderly, the disabled, or both. In their sunset years, they would still like to experience seeing new sights, but are worried about holding people up or making you worry about them. Reassure your elderly traveler that this is their trip too! Everyone should be able to experience going to new places, no matter how old they are, and discomfort that usually deters some people can be avoided by keeping these five tips in mind.