Travelling long distances or for extended periods with someone who has a disability or illness can have many special challenges. With advanced planning, these challenges can be reduced and the trip made more enjoyable for everyone. Below are some tips to make your trip less stressful.
1. If travelling by plane, check with the airlines for special seating, wheelchair accessibility and medical equipment arrangements. Can you receive special assistance if you need it?
If travelling by car, have supplies in the car to make the person as comfortable as possible. Plan to make regular stretch and rest stop breaks along the way.
Check with the transportation authority at your destination to find out what services they provide for people with disabilities; find out if you can use your handicapped designation decal.
When renting a car, let the car rental agency know what your needs are regarding storing equipment such as a wheelchair or scooter and accessibility into the vehicle.
2. Make a list of daily tasks related to diet, personal care and mobility so you remember to take along all needed items. Start this list a couple weeks in advance and add to it each day as you complete activities at home. Often, it is easy to forget those little items automatically used each day.
3. Plan ahead for the trip by packing important documents in your carry-on bag, such as insurance cards, physicians’ phone numbers, refills on medications and a copy of medical records in case your family member needs care while away; make sure you have everything you will need in case of an emergency.
4. Call the Red Cross office at your destination to inquire whether you can access the equipment-loan cupboard there. If this is unavailable, find out whether the medical equipment stores in the area have a short-term rental plan. This will help you decide what equipment you will need to take with you.
5. For access to home support services at your destination, your local home support agency may have a branch at that location. Otherwise, you can check local yellow pages online or contact hospitals or health units in the area for suggestions.
6. When travelling, try to follow the same routine that is followed at home as much as possible. This will make it easier for both of you. Ensure you plan for rest periods throughout the day.
7. Toileting may require some advanced planning when you are travelling. Figure out possible challenges and what supplies need to be brought with you. If you are unfamiliar with alternative aids for toileting, check with your Health Authority Case Manager.
8. Someone who is at risk to wander when at home may also do so in an unfamiliar place. Put a card with the name, address and telephone number of where you are staying in their pocket.
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JUNE 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
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