Taking a successful vacation when you are a caregiver requires planning and coordination. And patience. And guts if you are going for more than a day!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, or others, before you leave. Is the destination accessible for my loved one’s abilities? Ensure that stairs are kept to a limit that is acceptable and have railings. Are doorways wide enough for a wheelchair or walker? Will the bathroom accommodate your routine?
Are the activities within my loved one’s capabilities? Sometimes less is more. Be aware that your loved one’s abilities may be different when not in the comfort of home. Allow time for recuperation from the travel before activities are planned.
Take all medications with you in their original containers and anything liquid in a clear separate bag. This is in case of an emergency.
Remember that elders (or anyone with health problems) are more sensitive to extreme heat and more prone to dehydration. Ask your doctor about any concerns he may have for fluid intake based on the climate.
Dress in layers to accommodate shifting between air conditioning and the outdoors.
Find the nearest location of an emergency room or urgent care provider in the area you are visiting prior to your trip.
When planning family reunions or large parties, ensure that elders have designated one-to-one time with extended family members. Your loved one may get lost in the hustle and bustle of a large party. Having designated time with your loved one will allow all family members to catch up on the news and events.
If your loved one can’t travel distances, or money is limited, unlock your creative juices and you will be amazed at the things you will find to do.
How about breakfast or lunch at the Tillsonburg Airport? The SkyWay café is wheelchair accessible, and has large windows for easy viewing of planes taking off and landing. (Check out the days it is open.)
A trip to Lake Erie at Port Burwell can be a great outing. Take a sandwich and cold drink and sit at the wheelchair accessible picnic table under the tree at the edge of the parking lot.
Lake Lisgar is a restful spot as well. (Right now the baby geese in their varying stages of growth are funny things to watch.)
Walters Dinner Theatre is a close drive, and is located in a beautiful setting.
There are several trout farms in the area which might accommodate walkers and/or wheelchairs. Great for those who like fish!
When we were caregivers, our loved one enjoyed just a ride in the country (stopping at farm stands when fresh vegetables and fruit were in season). She especially liked driving in a familiar area where she could reminisce about who lived where and what they used to do. She also enjoyed going through the drive-ins at a fast food place and ordering a sundae or milkshake! Sometimes she just went along for the ride, whether it was to the bank, to the grocery store or where ever. She liked to sit in the car and “people watch.”
And don’t forget Turtlefest this month! Friday, June 14, parts of Broadway will be blocked off for live entertainment beginning at 5:00 p.m. Take your lawn chairs, and enjoy the music and performances. There will be all kinds of entertainment, food to purchase, etc. Saturday, June 15, there will be activities and entertainment at various venues around town – Annandale House, Station Arts Centre, Lake Lisgar, Memorial Park, etc.
These simple activities may not seem like a “vacation” as such, but it is amazing how an hour or two out of the routine can rejuvenate your spirit.
Do not compare your vacation (or staycation) with those of the past. When you fall into this pattern of thinking, you often focus on what is different or what you can’t do. Think of each vacation as a new chapter, a new adventure in your life.
Yes, it takes effort to make sure your loved one gets away from their four walls. But it’s worth it – both for them and for you.