Air travel can be difficult at any age. With forecasters saying the lines at security will be longer than ever this summer, travel for seniors may be especially challenging. When the older adult you love will be traveling with has special needs as the result of a condition like Alzheimer’s or diabetes, the trip can be even more complicated.
Planning ahead is the key to a safe and successful vacation.
Traveling with Seniors this Summer
Here are a few tips to help you and your family plan your next getaway:
- Direct Flights: While direct flights often cost more than those with connections, they can make a big difference when you are traveling with seniors or with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease. Booking a direct flight shortens the travel day and minimizes the risk of long delays in faraway airports.
- Flight Seating Map: Most airlines post the seating chart for each plane on their website. This allows passengers to view the chart and pre-book their seats. Review your seating options before you book so you can find a seat with easy access in and out of the plane or seats near the bathroom if your loved one needs to use it frequently.
- Contact the Airline Ahead of Time: The airlines can make arrangements for a wheelchair or electric cart to transport people with special needs if they know ahead of time. Don’t risk waiting until you get to the airport to ask for special assistance. Instead, call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 at least 72 hours before your flight.
- Medical File: While no one likes to head off on vacation thinking their fun will be interrupted by a medical emergency, it is important to be prepared. Bring a copy of your loved one’s medical history, medication list, and physician contact information with you. It might be easier to do if you take advantage of an app like My Medical App or Care Zone.
- Know Your Rights: In past years, adults with health conditions that required emergency access to prescriptions and medical supplies ran in to problems getting them past security screening. Thanks to advocacy efforts of organizations like the American Diabetes Association, passengers can now take necessary medications and medical equipment onboard their flight. You can learn how to prepare the medications and supplies you need to travel with by reviewing the Your Rights. One Voice Fact Sheet
- Dementia Safety Precautions: Traveling with a loved one who has memory loss can be potentially dangerous. But there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risks. One is to make sure your family member has a GPS tracking bracelet or pendant in case you are separated from one another. This allows your loved one to be quickly located. Another suggestion is to create small cards that quickly explain your situation. You can hand them to TSA agents, flight attendants and others you encounter on the trip. It saves your family member the embarrassment of having to listen as you explain their situation to strangers over and over.
Taking a little extra time to plan your summer vacation with a senior loved one can make the trip memorable for all the right reasons!