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If you’re an adult caring for a parent, you know that caretaking is not for wimps. According to Family Caregiver Alliance, 70 percent of working caregivers have made a job change to accommodate taking care of mom or dad. Following the economic downturn of the past decade, more caregivers are reporting greater anxiety at the idea of taking time away from work to care for their loved one.
No one would deny that it’s time for a vacation. The art of taking a vacation with the person you’re caring for lies in preparation.
See a Doctor
A physical examination prior to travel is a good idea, even if your parent has been seen relatively recently. Tell the doctor where you plan to travel and find out if he has any suggestions, such as special shots your parent might need. Make sure that all of your parent’s medications are up to date and that you have enough to cover the entire trip. The American Diabetes association says to ask the doctor for two things: a letter explaining what needs to be done for your parent’s condition and a prescription to use in case medications are lost or stolen. The letter will come in handy if you happen to be separated from your parent when a medical situation arises.
Remember that your parent may be anxious about making a trip away from home and a trip to the doctor can help alleviate those fears.
Have a Heart-to-Heart
Talk to your parent about the trip and make a list of the things each of you would like to see and do. Discussing the particulars of the trip prior to leaving is a good way to make sure that you’re both on the same page and that neither of you is likely to be disappointed.
Ask for Help
As a caretaker you know that it can be a 24/7 job. Don’t be afraid to ask a sibling along to help with your parent or to arrange for a personal support worker who can take some of the burden from your shoulders. It is obvious by the fact that you’re caring for your parent that you love her, but your vacation should be a time for you to refresh and renew. It is going to be easier if you have support.
If you plan on flying to your destination, AARP advices that you make arrangements with your airline 48 hours ahead of your scheduled departure. Also make sure that the airport shuttle, hotel and any special places you plan to dine are wheelchair accessible. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid frustration.
Have an Emergency Plan
Do a little research prior to leaving. Find out which hospital is nearest to the places you plan to stay. Make a note card for each stop that lists the city, name of your hotel and address of the closest hospital. Keep all of your health insurance information in one place so that it is easy to find if the need arises. Make your parent part of the process by asking her to help research or make notes, if possible. The important thing is that she understands the system you have devised and can find it if it's needed.
Little things like pacing yourself, being realistic about what you can do on the trip and careful planning are each likely to make your vacation more pleasant. Remember that you have earned this holiday away so make sure that you build in time to relax.
Lindsay Sterling is a stay at home mom and Pinterest queen. Writing has been her passion since she was 10 years old.