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Keep elderly loved ones safe during travel

June 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nearly 25 percent of all U.S. households are providing care for an elderly person.Summer is a great time for families to bond with grandparents during vacation. If you're bringing them along, here's a little advice on how to make traveling with seniors safe.

When you travel with elderly relatives, experts say you've got to plan down to the last detail.

"It takes a lot of coordination and a lot of organization. And you have to really prepare for it," said Dr. Marion Somers, Ph.D., a geriatric specialist.

The author of "Elder Care Made Easier" has put together six tips to help families keep seniors safe and healthy while traveling.

Dr. Somers say just remember the word "ELDERS."

  • E for emergency contacts -- Type out a list key people like next of kin and primary doctors.
  • L for legal papers -- Make sure all wills and health care directives are in order. You don't necessarily have to bring the documents with you, but you should have them in a safe place that someone else can get to if they're needed.
  • D for doctor's visit -- Seniors should get a full check up before a trip; know what's normal in terms of blood pressure.
  • E for essential travel documents -- Bring extra copies of passports, credit cards and IDs.
  • R for Rx refills -- Have copies of all your prescriptions in case they get lost or stolen.
  • S for special requests -- Call your hotel and airlines ahead of time to make reservations for a wheelchair, meals, and transportation. Whatever it takes to keep your elderly loved ones comfortable.

"It reduces their anxiety, and that's very important," said Dr. Somers.

Gail Deutsch says preparing for her 80-year-old father and 76-year-old mother to travel with her family this summer is a priority, but as a caregiver, she realizes her health has to be number one.

"The first thing I learned from Dr. Marion is taking care of myself. Because if I don't take care of myself, I'm not any good to them," said Deutsch.

Dr. Somer also suggests packing a 'senior bag,' just like parents pack a baby bag. It should contain an extra change of clothes, reading glasses, and medications so if luggage gets lost, they still have the carry on. Stash some snacks and maybe something to read in the bag too.


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