Holidays for your elderly parents
A much-needed holiday is something that many of us look forward to every year, but it can raise a lot of worries if you have elderly parents with care needs, whether mild or substantial.
A change of scenery can be a great thing for your elderly parents, so you may decide to take them with you, which can be a good way to spend time as a family. However, there can be a lot of things that you need to think about depending on their level of need, and certain things that you need to take into consideration, such as insurance.
You may also wish to consider a separate holiday for your elderly parents, where they go away without you and in the company of their peers. There are companies in the UK that can assist you with that and using a specialist company means that their needs are more easily met.
We have some tips for both of these situations to help you tackle any issues head on and ensure that everyone gets the holiday that they want and need.
Taking your elderly parents with you
The first decision that you need to make is whether you want to holiday in this country or abroad.
If you decide to stay in the UK, then think about how far you can travel and by what method of transport. If you have a lot of equipment, such as mobility scooters or walking aids, then taking a car can be easier than loading things onto a train or coach, for example. You may need to hire a larger car if you are taking the whole family, plus luggage and equipment. If you need to take a wheelchair and get it in and out of your vehicle, then there are companies that hire out accessible cars and minibuses for short-term tips. For example, see www.accessibleminibus.co.uk/. You may want to restrict the distance that you are travelling, so that there is not too much time in the car, or break the journey up.
Location is key too. Being remote is a great way to get peace on your holiday, but it can be hard for elderly parents to get around. Being near basic amenities is easier and some form of entertainment for the evenings is a bonus. Look for hotels or self-catering facilities that are accessible and have features that will make your elderly parents’ lives easier, such as walk-in showers, or baths with rails. Decide whether you need single-storey accommodation and if you’re in a hotel, find out what floor you are on and how easy it is to get to your room.
Think also about privacy – it’s your holiday and your parents’ holiday too, so you want to have separate space. A bathroom each, for example, can be necessary. Deal with all financial issues before you go – who is paying for the holiday in what share, who will be buying food, etc. You will probably want to spend some time together and some apart, so discuss this before you go.
If you’re going abroad, many of the same concerns still apply. Make sure that you have appropriate transport to the airport and that the transfer on the other side isn’t too long. Check the amenities and the accommodation are suitable for your needs, and there is plenty for your family and your parents to do together and separately, so you all get a lot out of the break. Some hotels will be able to provide mobility equipment so that you don’t have to take it, but check before you travel what you need to take.
Whether you are home or abroad, you will need to be organised. Ensure that you have enough medication for each day. It is crucial that you have the right level of insurance – depending on your parents’ needs, this can be quite expensive, but you should never travel without it. There are some companies that specialise in insurance for older people. See: www.staysure.co.uk, www.ageuk.org.uk or www.saga.co.uk.
Independent holidays for elderly parents
It might be that your parents prefer to go on their own holidays, which can also give you a chance to go away with your family without worrying about your parents missing out.
Again, there are some great options both in this country and abroad for your parents, regardless of their needs. They might prefer an escorted tour, so that they have a travel representative available at all times, they don’t have to worry about planning an itinerary and they get to holiday with a group of like-minded people. There are some companies that are particularly tailored to older people, disabled people and those with care needs. We suggest that you take a look at http://travel.saga.co.uk, www.enableholidays.com or www.silvertraveladvisor.com.
If you are booking accommodation yourself for your parents, then you will need to think about their transportation, how close they are to amenities and whether the accommodation is appropriate to their needs. The National Accessibility Scheme in the UK helps you to identify suitable places to stay, with a series of three symbols to help you find the right accommodation. The categories are: Mobility impaired and older people; Visually impaired and blind people; and Hearing impaired and deaf people. Within these categories are different levels of need; for example, there are four symbols for mobility impairment depending the type of access required.
There are also a couple of good websites that have guides for elderly and/or disabled people looking for holidays: www.goodaccessguide.co.uk and www.disabledholidaydirectory.co.uk are good places to start. Age UK also has a thorough guide to holidays of all kinds.