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Happy trails: Help your globe-trotting parents travel safely

Ask Dr. Marion: Marion Somers, Ph.D.


Dear Dr. Marion:

My parents are older and quite frail now, but they still love to travel. In fact, it’s what they live for besides their grandkids. But I worry about their safety. How can I be at my most relaxed when they go on their adventures?

Frieda in Arkansas, 64

You want your parents to keep traveling if that’s what they enjoy doing, so I suggest you help them prepare for any worst case scenarios so you can feel more at ease. My experience has been that once you have all of the bases covered, things usually go very smoothly.

Before your parents go on a trip, take the following precautions:

n Visit the doctor with your parents to be sure that they are healthy enough to take the trip. Never go against doctor’s orders.

n Have your parents’ legal papers in order. I’m talking specifically about their wills, healthcare proxies, durable power of attorney, and DNR. They all need to be in order in case something happens on the trip.

n Gather all of your parents’ prescriptions (including eyeglasses) and photocopy them so they can be taken on the trip in case they need to be refilled. Also, if they have any allergies, include that information.

n Be sure they travel with their medications on them at all times. Do not put them in the suitcase in case of theft or loss.

n Type out a short list of their key contacts including: two next of kin and other family members, lawyer, primary doctor(s), dentist, minister/rabbi/priest.

n If your parents wear medical bracelets or medical necklaces, be sure all information is up to date including medicine, allergies, doctors’ numbers, email address, and cell phone numbers. The same goes for key family member’s contact numbers.

n If they require any extra attention such as a wheelchair, raised toilets, increased safety features, or special meals, call ahead and alert the airline and/or hotel.

n Photocopy other important documents such as a passport, credit cards, and driver’s license in the event of theft or loss. This can save time if replacements are needed.

Dr. Marion (Marion Somers, PhD) is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier” and has more than 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager, caregiver, speaker, and expert in all things elder care. Visit www.DrMarion.com for more information.