Are you planning on any traveling with your elderly parents this year - for holiday visits with long distance family members or perhaps just to have a fun trip out to see sights and enjoy lovely scenery? My senior mom and I just returned from a 7 hour drive to visit some of her great-grandkids. It was a lovely visit but we did come back with a few tips to share with fellow journey-ers.
I routinely keep 4-5 lap blankets of different weights in my car - for her and for my grandkids. That way, if the car is too cool for anyone, they can balance it out easily with a snuggly warm blanket. Then, if they get too hot, it's easy to toss it off. And the different weights are especially helpful for my senior mom, as she can go from very cold to very warm much faster than normal. This allows her to easily swap blankets as her body temperature changes without having the heater or the cooler blast her in the face to try to accomplish the same thing.
She has always enjoyed car trips in the past, but the past couple of years they've been less pleasant. She has found that sitting too long bothers her back and her arthritis. On the trip out, we stopped every couple of hours to walk around, get a drink, use the restroom, etc. and that worked well. By the time we headed home, she was happy over the visit, exclaiming, "This was SUCH a nice time together," yet aching more than her normal amount. She took some medicine before we left that helped a bit and also encouraged sleeping on the way. She didn't feel up to getting out of the car at the first couple of stops. I finally made sure she did get out to walk a bit on the third stop and both of us were very glad she did. I could tell she would have been in even more pain if she hadn't.
Another sweet senior I love took a five hour trip to see relatives. She spent the night, then headed home. Shortly after she started, she realized that, because she hadn't slept well in the hotel, she was too tired to drive safely. She pulled over at a rest stop and took a two hour nap, then woke and headed home, much refreshed. However, as with the day before, she never stopped to get out and walk around. By the time she got home, her legs were swollen and she was in misery. It took her almost a week to recuperate from that journey. Most likely, she would not have experienced the majority of her pain if she had stopped every two or three hours to walk around. It definitely pays dividends for our sweet seniors AND ourselves to encourage them to take the time and energy to get out and move around a bit every so often on a long journey.
These long trips can be a blessing for the whole family, but taking simple precautions like having extra blankets in the car and making sure to stop often enough for them to keep their circulation moving well will be a big blessing to our elderly loved ones.