Palm Beach Angels Healthy Aging & Home Care Blog


Travel with SeniorsGreat memories are made during summer vacations. Family reunions, cruises, or excursions to the mountains or beach should mean quality time for all, not a “working” vacation for family members unduly burdened with the needs of a loved one. Here’s how to keep summer travel time from being traumatizing when dealing with the cognitive or physical needs of a senior loved one.

  1. Rather than risk the ruin of even the best intentions, before buying any tickets and booking hotel rooms, try a “day” trip or two to see how your senior spouse or elderly parent can handle the transportation and a change of environment. You want to see if they become disoriented and show signs of confusion and agitation. If a serious condition, disease or Alzheimer’s is involved, better to speak with their physician first to see if travel is wise considering their health and mobility.


  2. Have you asked your loved one if they really want to visit the relatives they dislike or stay at a resort when they hate the sand and can’t swim or stay out in the sun? If unhappy about the purpose of the trip or the destination to begin with, there is no guarantee it will be a good time for all. Better to have them remain at home with a companion or caregiver while you and other family members are travelling or vacationing. The respite care might be a nice break for all.


  3. Getting to the airport and boarding a plane can be exhausting for even the young and healthy. Perhaps consider a road trip by car or train instead, if appropriate and the distance allows.


  4. Before you pack your loved one’s suitcase, be sure to check the list below of what to bring (besides comfy clothes and shoes) and include any travel “emergency” items, as well as few favorite possessions that can provide familiarity and comfort.


    The “must haves”:

    • Any prescribed medications and enough to last for the duration of the trip, plus an extra dose or two in case you accidentally drop a pill down the hotel bathroom sink drain.


    • Doctor’s list including names and phone numbers and any other contact information, or insurance cards and information that might be needed in an emergency.


    • Some form of wearable identification, in case your loved one wanders off or gets lost. Have them carry a detailed travel itinerary on their person.


    • Copies of the legal documents allowing you to make medical and other decisions for your loved one.


    • Sun protection including hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc., as some medications can make Seniors “sun-sensitive”. Dehydration can also an issue – take refillable water bottles. Don’t expect them to enjoy spending hours out in the sun.


    • Bring any wheelchairs, canes or walkers necessary, there are often fold-up aides available.


    • Remember to pack your patience!


  5. Plan ahead when special needs are involved. Here are some dos and don’ts to avoid disaster:
  • Arrange for wheel chair transport at the airport, special handicapped security checks if available, and early check-in and boarding if possible.


  • Be pro-active and check out facilities or clinics available in the area you will be visiting “just-in-case”! See if there are local medical equipment suppliers that can rent oxygen or other bulky necessities you might need in a pinch.


  • Inquire if the hotel has access to a local Doctor “on call” for guests and provides handicap access rooms with grab bars in showers and wider entry ways for wheelchairs/walkers.


  • Don’t plan to travel late in the day or at night. Morning is usually best for seniors. Remember an airport is a nightmare even for the young traveler or road warrior.


  • Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible for meals and medications.


  • Don’t over schedule activities, seniors tire easily, be as flexible as possible and if an activity has to be postponed to another day.


  • Bring water and snacks along, monitor your loved one’s temperature, (or sugar levels) and keep them hydrated.


  • If you are going to an “attraction,” cultural event, historical site, museum or other community/public facility, request or arrange for a wheelchair.


Resources for traveling with the elderly, especially those with dementia, can be found here:

Consider this when planning – a Visiting Angels companion or caregiver is available to accompany your loved one on a short trip or excursion. Having an extra pair of hands to accompany and monitor your loved one on the trip takes away the anxiety and stress of dressing, meds, and meals, thereby ensuring everyone has a good time! If you must decide to leave your loved one behind, consider an “Angel” to provide respite care at home while you are away. Visiting Angels’ award-winning homecare agency can provide a cost effective, custom plan of care for your loved one whether you are away for one day, one week or more.  We can give you peace of mind - take the vacation break you need or the time to attend to your business out of town, while ensuring your elderly loved one is receiving the care and attention they require.


Irv Seldin, JD

Owner and President, Visiting Angels of the Palm Beaches

Article not intended as medical advice


Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.