Holiday travel to visit family or friends can be rewarding at any age, but an expert at Baylor College of Medicine says that for the elderly, it is an extra special occasion, especially with the proper planning.
“I always encourage people to travel,” said Dr. Angela Catic, assistant professor in the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor. “Travel is something that people find very pleasurable, and visiting loved ones at the holidays can be very meaningful.”
While traveling can be a great opportunity for elder adults, Catic advises those who plan on traveling during the holidays to plan accordingly. “Traveling can sometimes be physically strenuous, so it’s important for an elder adult and caretaker to remember to take frequent breaks when on the road or in a plane,” she said.
When preparing for a road trip, Catic suggests planning extra time to stop and get out of the car to walk around and stretch your legs. If you plan on boarding an airplane, she recommends booking seats with enough legroom to move around, and also taking opportunities to get up and walk up and down the aisles.
She advises caretakers and elder adults to be overly prepared when traveling with medication. “The most important issue when dealing with medication management and travel is to always take extra medication. Sometimes we may stay on vacation longer than we anticipate, so you want to make sure that you don’t run out of your medicine. For someone who is traveling by plane, it is important to pack your medication in your carry on so you don’t risk losing your luggage and medication,” she said.
Packing appropriate clothing is essential to being comfortable on a trip. Catic says elder adults are more susceptible to getting cold, so when packing they should pack extra layers to remain as comfortable as possible during their trip. She also says that caretakers and elderly adults should be aware of who they are traveling with and what they might need during their trip to ensure it is safe and comfortable environment.
“Most of the time, elder adults do very well when they travel. There isn’t one size fits all advice I would give when it comes to traveling with the elderly. I think it depends on the elder who is traveling and what their specific needs are,” she said.