Italian poet Cesar Pavese may well have had seniors in mind when he wrote,
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
It may be that air travel, with all its attendant aggravations, would be too gruelling for elderly and frail individuals. Some possible issues:
· The very long waits at airports due to heightened security
· Access to washrooms and problems with continence
· Problems with behavior or potential agitation may be difficult to deal with in flight, and unpleasant for staff and other passengers
· Those with severe urinary urgency or incontinence should probably not to fly at all since the washroom wait on an airplane can be very long
Depending on trip length, driving might be an easier alternative for the older person. For example, problems with urinary frequency or continence can be contained by planning to make frequent stops at service areas instead of waiting until the person says, “I have to go, now!!” Whatever the mode of travel, make sure that all necessary supplies, for example medications, absorbent pads and changes of underwear are easily accessible. The challenges of senior travel are many, thus the need to plan.
Keys to successful travel
Despite the challenges, travel may be worthwhile when previous experiences have always brought an improvement in the person’s sense of well-being. If the trip will really be a vacation, is safe, relieves the discomfort of a bad winter and/or offers a reunion with loved ones, it may well be worth the trouble.
The keys to a successful trip are:
· Planning to ensure enough support and supervision to decrease potential danger during the trip and the actual travel
· Providing any special considerations needed for comfort during the trip
· Ensuring that travel insurance will cover any needed medical services, return travel costs and cancellation penalties
· Defining beforehand how to obtain any necessary medical services, who to contact in an emergency, and how to return home early if necessary
Traveling with wings and roots
Despite the enormous growth in destinations that cater to older people, travel is not as easy as it once was and the challenges of aging can magnify the difficulties. But communication tools like cell phones, computers and Skype mean that seniors can be far way and still remain in contact with people who can help if an urgent need arises.
With the right planning, many older people can travel in relative safety to enjoy those warmer climates and loving reunions.