At some point, many adult children must manage flying with elderly parents. In some cases, it’s necessary to fly parents to a new home if they decide to retire or need to be closer to family. Another common reason is to bring elderly parents to a family get-together in a location far from their home.
Whatever the case, going into the experience with a plan based on tips from experts can help the process go smoother. The following ideas come from years of providing non-emergency medical flight services for all types of travelers who face difficulty flying on their own. That includes elderly parents.
Strategies to Make Flying With Elderly Parents Easier
There’s no one magic step to take that makes flying with elderly parents easier, but a series of smart strategies can reduce the risk that things will go wrong. If everything falls into place – and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t – putting these tips into practice can make the journey much easier.
Talk to Physician
Before booking a flight, talk with your parents’ physician about any tips they have for flying with people who have your parents’ conditions and/or illnesses. List all the prescription drugs they need to take on the flight, as well as writing down the dosages and time of day to take each medication. The doctor can also give your parents a checkup and ensure they have no issues that could prevent them from flying.
Booking the Trip
When flying with elderly parents, take steps to make travel as easy as possible. Look for direct flights rather than making them meet a connection and switch planes, even if it costs a bit more. If you use an airline that allows you to pick a specific seat, get one on the aisle near the front of the plane to make boarding and deplaning easier (as well as any trips to the restroom).
Request Special Services
Special services can include a wide range of issues. For example, if your parents have a disability, request seats that airlines set aside for the disabled. Other requests that can improve air travel for seniors include a wheelchair and special screening lines at security.
Going Through Security
In addition to requesting a special line for those with disabilities or medical equipment, keep in mind that all medications and equipment – including walkers and wheelchairs – must go through the screening process. Security may allow those 75 and older to go through security wearing shoes and a light jacket. Your parents can travel with liquid medication if you alert the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent about its presence. Also tell TSA agents about any special medical-related items, such as ice packs or syringes.
You should come to travel day with a rock solid plan for managing medication. This is of critical importance because it can prove difficult to get medication in some locations. Tips include keeping the medication in the original bottles, which makes it easier to prove what the pills are (this is especially important for international travel). Also, place them in carry-on bags, not check-in luggage. Pack extra medication and take water bottles onboard so they can easily take pills.
The most useful strategy of all is to plan ahead carefully and give yourself plenty of time for each step of the airport process. It’s bad enough to rush when you’re on your own and trying to catch a flight. It’s many orders of magnitude worse trying to rush with elderly parents (in fact, it’s next to impossible). Give yourself, and your parents, plenty of time to get through the process at a comfortable pace.
Working With a Flight Nurse
If you hire an experienced flight nurse with a non-emergency medical transport company, they take many of the issues listed above off your plate. A flight nurse coordinator books all the flights for you. A flight nurse joins you and your elderly parents throughout the entire travel day, from the moment you leave the house until your arrival at your destination. They manage medications, call ahead to make arrangements with security, make any special requests needed and provide any medical care needed during the flight itself. Flying with elderly parents is possible if you plan ahead and take all the right steps during the travel day. Having a professional flight nurse along during the trip can lead to less stress and the peace of mind knowing your parents are getting the best care possible.