Spending time with your parents or grandparents over the holidays can be quite fun – you can spend quality time together while also resting.
Keep in mind that vacationing with seniors does have its limitations. Seniors can’t always visit the same places a young family or couple could, especially if they have mobility issues. That’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a great time together, though. Many destinations or trips are ideal for seniors, as well as the whole family.
Make the best out of your holiday together by preparing in advance with these tips:
1. Take Seniors on a Cruise
A cruise is an ideal vacation option for the whole family, and especially for seniors. It’s perfect since you can travel to multiple locations while only unpacking once. Most cruise ships have special rates for seniors, too.
Cruises cater to the whole family, from your 3-year old toddler to grandpa, and everyone in between. They have great shows, shops, restaurants, spas, swimming pools, and for the adventurous, some even have rock climbing walls and zip lines. Choose a cruise ship with the kinds of activities your family would like.
All cruise ships need to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which ensures accessibility for wheelchairs and easy walkways for those who have difficulty walking. The medical care facilities of cruise ships need to be top notch, and some of the cruise ships have a helipad for emergency evacuations.
2. Rest and Relax
Sometimes all you need is to get away from the day-to-day bustle and take time out to relax. For a relaxing vacation option, choose a destination that isn’t strenuous, such as California’s Napa Valley with its lovely views and wine tasting experiences.
A beach paradise is also an excellent choice for a relaxing vacation. Book a condo on the beach where you don’t need to go too far to touch the sand and get your feet wet. If you don’t feel like swimming or walking around, you can just sit on the deck with a great book and a beautiful view. Hawaii is an excellent option for an island holiday. It offers beautiful beach condos, amazing views, and many golf courses.
3. Go on a Train Trip
Evoke cherished memories from younger years with a multi-day train trip. There’s no shortage of destinations you can visit in America. Trains are a comfortable way of traveling, and you’ll see beautiful scenery passing by. The slow swaying of the train and the soft chugging sound in the background will help everyone sleep like a baby.
Trains are great for seniors with few medical conditions, but do be aware that the many hours between stops can be a problem for anyone with serious medical issues.
4. Adjust Your Pace
Seniors move at a different pace, even if they are reasonably active. Plan your vacation around their physical abilities, and don’t stack your itinerary full for the day. When they’re tired, take a rest or call it a day, and plan for some rest days in between busy days.
Remember, it takes a longer time for seniors to get ready in the morning. Use that time to do something for yourself, like going shopping or visiting an attraction you’re interested in.
5. Rent a Motorized Scooter
If your loved one has difficulty walking but still has an adventurous spirit, consider renting a motorized scooter for him and her. Many seniors don’t want to use a wheelchair unless it’s absolutely necessary, but a scooter is a good alternative because it gives them a level of independence they don’t usually have.
These scooters can only go about 10 miles an hour, so they are fairly safe. The scooters are small – they can fit into elevators and can ride on the sidewalk or beach path without difficulties.
6. Look for Accessibility
When you book a place to stay or plan sightseeing activities, make sure the area and buildings are easily accessible. Make sure there are elevators in multistory buildings and short walkways to where you need to go.
Before you book an organized group tour, such as at a museum, make sure you join a group that’s senior friendly, as your parents might not be able to keep up with a regular group. Alternatively, you can book a private tour guide for your group.
7. Be Prepared
The first thing you should do when you arrive at a new destination is to make sure you get the numbers of the local doctor, the nearest hospital, and an emergency pharmacy. Make sure your loved one has a list of the phone numbers as well, including some cash and a cell phone which is always charged. This will give both of you peace of mind in case something happens.
8. Flying with Seniors
Flying can be stressful – even more so for a senior, especially if they have mobility issues. Make sure you book a seat with easy access and extra leg space, such as a seat at the front or next to a walkway.
All US airports offer special security screenings for those over 75 and people with disabilities, which means no long queues or having to remove shoes and belts at the security checkpoint. Ask about it when you check in. Most airports and airlines have a pre-board option available for the elderly, so they can board and settle in before the rush start.
If your loved one has difficulty walking, request a wheelchair with an attendant to help them get around and also help with the luggage. Most airlines provide special assistance, as long as you arrange it 48 hours in advance. You can also hire an independent company, such as the Royal Airport Concierge Service, for assistance.
Make sure you pack light as you don’t want to struggle with many pieces of luggage while attending to your senior companion as well. Pack their medications separately for easy screening at security checkpoints.
9. Plan Activities Around the Senior’s Schedule
Vacation time should be enjoyable for everyone, but when you’re vacationing with seniors, it will help to prioritize their needs and schedules. Routine and stability are important for people with disabilities or physical limitations, so rather than risking a situation where the seniors in your party are over-exerted, plan to accommodate any special needs. By keeping their routine in place, seniors will be able to function at their optimal wellness during the vacation and everyone can avoid dealing with the fallout of unnecessary stress.
10. Bring a Caregiver Along
The main aim of a vacation is to rest. It can be stressful to look after your elderly parents while on holiday, especially if you have young kids to look after as well. To avoid becoming burned out over the holidays, hire a caregiver to come along and look after your elderly parents. That way you can spend as much quality time possible with your loved ones.
If you have a regular caregiver that provides home care services for your loved one, consider asking them for help planning the vacation, too. A caregiver will have a lot of knowledge about the questions you should ask hotels, tours, and vacation service providers. Organizing vacations for seniors with their families can be an important aspect of a good home care plan, and something that a professional caregiver will be able to help with.