Are you a senior? Or are you a caregiver for a senior? Then you must be aware of the difficulties of travel for seniors. And, in spite of the fact that the world is becoming more conscious of the needs of seniors, and many train stations, bus terminals and airports have been introducing measures to handle the needs of seniors, it is still not enough.
So, what are the problems seniors face when they travel, accompanied or unaccompanied? What do they feel before a journey? Are they excited to be traveling, maybe to visit their children and grandchildren? Or are they full of dread and despair at the thought of leaving the safe confines of their homes to board an aircraft that will be suspended in the sky?
Of course, all seniors are not the same. Many of them are full of joy at the thought of traveling to meet their loved ones. Quite often, the thought of arriving at their destination is so exciting that they tend to overlook any inconveniences they may have to face while traveling and are very positive about the experience.
But then, as we’ve already said – all seniors are not the same. So, what do the others have to say about what it means to travel for seniors?
Senior moments en route
The fears that seniors experience while traveling may seem rather over-the-top to us, but they are very real to them. We can only try to fathom the intensity of their anxiety attacks, but unless we step into their shoes…
What do seniors fear the most while traveling?
- Will they have to climb stairs?
- Will their ears hurt?
- How will they go to the toilet?
- What if they get leg cramps?
- What if there’s an emergency landing?
- Will there be a doctor onboard if they feel ill?
- Suppose they have a heart attack?
- Will they get food on the flight?
These are only some of the thoughts that go through a seniors’ mind. And they probably seem like insurmountable problems to them. But they don’t have to be. There are certain steps we can take to pre-empt these issues involved in travel for seniors, that would be very reassuring for them.
Travel tips for seniors
All it takes is a little bit of foresight and planning to make traveling for seniors a painless, and maybe even pleasurable, process. And the process begins at home itself, before the journey begins.
- For starters – how do you get seniors out of the house? Especially those who are not very mobile? Just arrange for a wheelchair – they can be easily wheeled out of the house and to the car.
- Getting into a car is not an easy task for seniors who may have stiff joints and painful muscles. The wheelchair needs to be taken right up to the front passenger door because it’s usually wider than the back door and the seat is lower than the back seat. Seniors can then be gently eased sideways onto the front seat.
- The wheelchair can then be folded and stowed away in the boot of the car.
- When the car reaches the airport, the wheelchair can be unfolded and seniors can be transferred onto it. Ensure the wheelchair is kept out of the way of baggage trolleys to avoid getting bumped.
- After check-in, look for elevators that are conveniently situated. Seniors are always given priority.
- Prior to boarding the flight, it would be wise for seniors to visit the toilet in the terminal since toilets on aircraft are very cramped. Toilets for the handicapped are available at the airport. If it’s going to be a long flight, seniors should use adult diapers to avoid using the toilet on the aircraft.
- Another major obstacle is reaching the aircraft. There’s no problem if there’s an aerobridge. But if there isn’t, a bus or coach would be used – not very convenient for elder travel. If the bus has a ramp, the wheelchair can be wheeled onto the bus easily. If not, airline staff can be requested to be on call to help lift seniors onto the coach.
- While boarding the aircraft, wheelchairs can be raised on a platform and wheeled in through the galley.
- If the airline cannot provide special meals for seniors, do carry suitable food from home. Most seniors need to have their meals on time, more so if they are on time-bound medications.
- Similar arrangements need to be made during disembarkation.
These are only some rather basic arrangements that need to be made to ensure that seniors can travel comfortably, with minimal physical and mental trauma. A great deal of patience is required to deal with elders who are highly strung and insecure, and they need a lot of reassurance. However, with the right kind of planning and coordination, the journey can be fairly smooth and hassle-free.
A little compassion, a few insights and a bit of organization – that’s all it takes to ensure hassle-free travel for seniors.