Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents

Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents

Planning Your Perfect Vacation

The key to creating fun family moments and special memories is by planning ahead.

  • Where do you want to visit?
  • Where will you stay?
  • What mode of transportation will you use?

After you have decided your destination, you are ready to start the process of accommodating your aging parent’s individual needs. Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents

Air Travel With Aging Parents

For those planning on traveling by airplane, make every effort to set up a direct flight. When booking a flight, notify the airline, if special arrangements like a wheelchair or an escort are needed.

Hotel Accommodations With Aging Parents

After solidifying your flight arrangements, begin to book the hotel.  Inquire about handicap accommodations (if needed).  Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents

  • Pay careful attention to challenges with staircases, doorways
  • Your aging parent may need larger bathrooms equipped with safety rails for easy walkers/wheelchair access.
  • Try and reserve a room that is away from traffic and noise. Your parents may wish to take an afternoon nap and noise may be disturbing.
  • Check that there is handicap parking or easy access for them to get in and out of their room or building.

When Renting a Car

Your aging parents will be more comfortable in a rental car with extra leg room and trunk space..

Medical Equipment

It is difficult to travel with bulky medical equipment. Research local suppliers and arrange to rent durable equipment such as wheelchairs, lifts, transfer/tub seats and backup oxygen tanks. regularly ships medical supplies and equipment to vacation locations for convenience.  Order early and the items can be waiting for you.

Get Help:

Geriatric Care Manager

Hiring a geriatric care manager can reduce burdens and alleviate the stress of traveling with elderly parents.

  • Assist with making travel arrangements.
  • Make phone calls and organize extensive legwork.
  • Assist you during the actual vacation

A vacation is an occasion for all to enjoy and not the time to take on additional responsibilities.
Avoid bitter battles and resentment by proactively assessing your aging parent’s needs.  They will require the same amount of assistance on vacation as at home.  Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents
What level of care is your elderly parent accustomed to having at home or in an assisted living. This will determine the type of arrangements for care during your vacation.

If possible, bring your private caregiver. However, if that is not an option you can arrange home health care.
Caregivers can assist with personal hygiene, dressing, and bathing. If your parent requires special treatments, dressing changes, injections, glucose monitoring, cauterizations or other skilled care you can schedule a nursing visit by an RN or LPN.

Planning Your Itinerary

Most attractions are handicap accessible but double check. Research the places that you want to visit or call before hand. Remember seniors will tire out more easily and may need a break in between.
Organize a separate itinerary for your parents. Ask them what they would like to do.  Depending on their needs, schedule in afternoon naps. Use that time for sightseeing or enjoy an afternoon spa treatment.

Aging Parents and Medical Clearance

Contact your parent’s doctor and inquire if they are clear to travel. Use this conversation as an opportunity to review with the doctor your parent’s conditions and medications. Ask for a referral for another doctor in the area you will be visiting.

Packing For Your Parents

  • Can your parents pack for themselves?
  • Will they be able to carry their own luggage?
  • What items need to be on hand at all times?

Accessible at all times should be quick snacks, antacids, vitamins, and other over the counter medications.
You may find Valerie Grubb’s Summer Packing Checklist to be helpful.


  • Bring all their medications.
  • Label medications with current dosages and times.
  • Make a copy of all medications and keep it with you at all times.

By Car

Allow for a few extra rest stops, and have drinks, snacks and medications and other necessities accessible. Aging parents may need to stop earlier for the night.

By Plane

Those traveling by airplane should remember that older people need more time to move around the airport.


Prepare medical records, physicians orders, current care plans, signed consent/insurance forms in advance.  Preliminary paperwork can reduce demand on the vacation itself.

Know How to Communicate

Create a communications plan.  Alleviate stress by making sure you and your parents will have access to a phone so they can reach you or call emergency services.
Quick dial your phone number, emergency services and the caregiver’s number.

Stress Busters

Plan in advance, so you can have less stress.
Take your time.

  • Should medications be forgotten contact the physician immediately upon your destination arrival to request prescriptions to be called into a local pharmacy.
  • Keep a loose schedule.
  • Elderly parents need extra time, you don’t want to rush or feel rushed.

Set clear expectations

  • Involve your parents.
  • Let them voice an opinion.
  • Ask them if they are enjoying their day.
  • Focus on the present, instead of bringing up old issues.

You’re Ready

You have planned the perfect vacation with your aging parent in mind. Proper preparation, organization, and flexibility are the secrets to a successful vacation. Your efforts will ensure that your aging parents will enjoy the trip. And you too!
Take the time to relax and enjoy your vacation by getting the necessary help.
What are your secrets to vacationing with your aging parents?
By Julie Feinerman

Family First Home Health Care is a consumer directed private care registry, with the purpose of putting our client in control.  Our mission is to offer access to referrals of caregivers with different skill levels, so that clients always have access to an appropriate caregiver, even as a client’s needs change. You can individually select your caregivers.

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Tips Planning Vacation with Aging Parents

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

As Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well.  Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor.  Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver.  Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.  She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.

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