Elderly parents often find the prospect of air travel daunting. From navigating airports to dealing with long flights, older travelers can find the experience physically and emotionally demanding. However, by following proven tips for supporting elderly parents during air travel, it’s possible to ensure their journey is as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Many elderly travelers worry about the airport screening process or mobility issues. While these are valid concerns, it’s important that they do not keep seniors from enjoying travel. In some cases, having a travel companion along for the trip can make it much more relaxing and enjoyable. However, whether they travel alone or with a companion, the following elderly airline tips also can help make the journey less stressful.
Ways to Support Elderly Parents During Air Travel
One of the most important reasons to follow tips for supporting elderly parents during air travel is peace of mind. When seniors travel alone, especially if they have limited mobility, their family or caregivers may worry about their well-being. By following smart tips and providing support and assistance, they can have more peace of mind, knowing their elderly parents are well cared for during their travels.
Plan Ahead and Communicate
The first step is to plan the trip well in advance, ensuring that you accommodate the specific needs of your parents. It’s a smart move to inform the airline in advance (such as when purchasing tickets) about any mobility issues, medical conditions, or special requirements your parents may have. Also, get a seat with extra legroom or proximity to the restroom, if possible. Make a point of speaking with the airline or airport about arranging wheelchair assistance and other support services at both the departure and arrival airports.
Carry-On Medications and Essentials
A key step when elderly parents travel is to pack their medications, necessary medical equipment, and personal essentials, in a carry-on bag. This allows them easy access to medication during the flight. Also, if there is a delay or lost luggage, they won’t be left without their essential items. They should pack medications in original labeled containers and carry any required medical documentation or prescriptions.
Some of the biggest concerns for older travelers revolve around mobility, especially those who experience difficulty moving and standing for long periods or those with chronic health conditions. To address this issue, request airport assistance or arrange for a wheelchair to be available at all points of the journey. This allows elderly parents the ability to more easily navigate airport terminals comfortably, as well as reducing the risk of falls or excessive fatigue.
Anyone with elderly parents knows they experience temperature changes more profoundly. They should consider wearing loose, comfortable clothing . They also should dress in layers, allowing them to add or remove clothes depending on the temperature inside the airport or airplane. Also, comfortable footwear with slip-on features or adjustable closures make it more convenient to get through security checks and walk through the airport.
Stay Hydrated and Nourished
Air travel can lead to dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and discomfort. Elderly parents should drink plenty of water before, during, and after a flight. It’s also helpful to pack healthy snacks or meals in a carry-on bag so they are handy throughout the flight. For longer flights, it’s important to note some airlines provide special meal options for those with specific dietary needs.
Offer Emotional Support and Patience
This is perhaps the most important advice for supporting elderly parents during air travel. It’s the foundation for all the other tips. Whether they say it or not, elderly parents may feel overwhelmed by air travel. Offering them emotional support, reassurance, patience and understanding can help reduce their stress and make the entire process run much more smoothly.
Remember to stay calm and organized to help reduce your parents’ stress levels. Check in with them often, address their concerns, and make them feel comfortable and supported. That’s the best way you can support them as they prepare for air travel.