Many of us like to take summer holidays and for caregivers, this brings some extra things to consider.
Should you decide to vacation with your older parent, there are some pre planning tips that can make this journey more enjoyable for both of you. Firstly, know what type of holiday would be best for everyone. Extensive touring, outings, or excursions can be tiring for older individuals. There are some senior friendly travel agencies which can also provide guidance for more ‘senior friendly’ destinations. Always bring medication in their original prescription bottles and enough for the ‘just in case’. Purchasing extra health insurance as well as flight delay and cancellation insurance are also worthwhile considerations.
By Air or Train: If possible, try to set up a direct flight for your parents; call the airline in advance to know what special arrangements must be made. This may include ordering special foods/meals or use of a wheelchair. Some airlines allow companions/aides to travel either at a reduced rate or at no additional cost. When I travel with my mother we arrange for a wheelchair which is especially helpful as the distances in the airport are long. It also saves us all time getting through security and customs (win- win)!
If taking a vacation does not include your parents, then there are several options to ensure that they will be well taken care of during your absence. If there is an option for another family member to take over for you, then wonderful, as maintaining the older person’s routine as much as possible is recommended. If not, then there are still a few options.
Hiring an agency to provide care is a preferred route for many. If there is an extra bedroom available, a caregiver can move temporarily into the home and sleep there. If there is no private bedroom, then typically the staff remains ‘awake’ overnight. This route is more expensive but may provide necessary peace of mind. Although hiring from an agency is more expensive than hiring privately, there are checks and balances in place, which include coverage and supervision that all bring peace of mind. If this is your preferred route, have the caregiver start a few days early at least for a few hours, so that they can become familiar with your parent’s routine.
Another option chosen by many are short-term stays at retirement residences. Furnished suites are available, with personal care and full meal options as part of the daily rate. Costs start at about $135.00 per night
Alternatively, some choose to book respite stays at Long Term Care facilities. Again full care and meals are provided. The Ontario Ministry rate is $40.24 per day. This option must be booked well in advance and applications are made based on the older person’s address and Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) office. Regardless of choice of location, make sure that all emergency contact information is provided.
Whether your parents are traveling with you or the decision is that they remain at home, it is important that you plan ahead to make sure all arrangements are in place.