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Tips on planning a holiday for elderly parents

We all love a break from the hum drum, including our parents! Organising a holiday for older parents might be a little more complicated and need a bit more planning but the end goal is the same – a break from the norm, which can be great medicine for everyone.

Here’s our advice on the important things to think about when planning a holiday for/with your parents.

The right holiday for elderly parents

The difference between a great holiday and a disaster lies in the detail of things like single supplements, grab rails in the shower, wheelchair or scooter access as well as particular dietary requirements or medical needs.  While many holidays claim to be mobility/disabled friendly there may be limited accommodation of this nature, so planning well in advance is advised.

Age Space founder Annabel recently took her elderly parents on holiday to Cornwall and despite thinking ahead and booking a single level cottage, she soon realised there were so many things she hadn’t thought about. Read her truthful and informative blog ‘A holiday from hell or ways to avoid one’ to get some great tips on organising a staycation for your parents.

Ready to start planning, here we go ……..

Assisted Flying

airport lounge

If you are arranging flights, booking in advance through the airline (which co-ordinates with the airports) you can organise different levels of assistance, from the front door, or the terminal drop-off, through check in to the plane and at their destination.   Be sure to book a “narrow” wheelchair if needed for the plane itself.  Why not get the suitcases sent ahead?  It may feel a bit of a luxury, but is becoming more cost effective in comparison to the hold baggage charges from many of the airlines. It requires a bit of forethought – and no last minute packing!  Try providers such as  www.sendmybags.com or www.flymybag.co.uk.

Norwich Airport offer a wonderful special assistance service, click HERE for more information.

Driving Holidays

If the preferred holiday means driving in the UK, you might need to factor in more snooze and loo breaks than for yourself, and even non-motorway routes;  you might need to accompany your parents or drive them to their destination. Adapted car hire is available although more limited than regular hire in the UK and abroad, as is wheelchair and scooter hire, and wheelchair accessible vehicles.   Contact large well-known providers as well as small local operators.  Availability may dictate your final destination.  One recommendation we have is Indigo Car Hire who specialise in care hire for older people.

Public transport in the UK has improved for disabled travellers and those with restricted mobility, and both National Rail and National Express buses suggest forward planning directly with them to ensure a smooth journey.

Coaches, Cruises, Escorted Tours

cruise chairs

If your parent is on their own, or even if they’re not, there are lots of holidays that should take the stress out of the whole thing: from no-fly cruises leaving from UK ports, to coach trips picking up all over the country, the world is their oyster these days.   And, if your parent has a particular interest – bird watching, flowers or fishing for example, then why not encourage them on to an escorted tour?

Older travel specialists Silver Travel Adviser recommends a range of specialist providers who can help you arrange all manner of different kinds of holidays from self-catering houses to hotels, coach trips and cruises.  They also have specialist advisers to help with the planning of a holiday.

Additional care and support

hiring a carer 1 1

Finding a holiday companion amongst friends or relatives can add significant moral and practical support and fun.  However, you might need to arrange a holiday which includes personal care assistance; there are care homes which provide short term respite care.  Flexible, tailored care packages at hotels in the UK are available through organisations such as Richmond Retreats .

There are also holiday companies which specialise in giving people living with dementia and their carers a break; providing bespoke or small group holidays and offering all the support needed to make it a real holiday. Take a look at Dementia Adventure .

Travel Insurance 

Arranging travel insurance can be problematic with age and increasing frailty, so good starting points include your parents existing insurance provider, Saga, or Age UK .

Be Prepared 

planningahead

We don’t want to be doom and gloom, but it really is best to have a ‘just incase’ list.

  1. Emergency numbers for the holiday destination, the address of the local hospital, taxi numbers and pharmacies
  2. Your parents bank account details,  NI and passport numbers
  3. Travel insurance details
  4. List of any medication

It’s also a good idea for your parents to pack more medication than they might need, in case they get stuck somewhere; also a really useful idea is for them to take a written list and for you to have a copy so you’re not scrabbling around for information should you need it.

The ‘all inclusive’ family holiday

Not the all you can eat kind of all inclusive. Having your parents come on holiday with you might be the perfect holiday for everyone – or you going on holiday with them.

Whatever the end result, a holiday either entirely new and different or similar in most respects to their “younger” holidays, everyone needs a break from their usual routine. As they say, a change is as good as a rest.  Happy travels!

Additional links/sources of information:

Silver Travel Adviser

DisabledHolidays4U 

The Accessible Travel Company

Enable Holidays

If you’ve got any top tips to add to this travel pack, why not join our forum and share your knowledge.