Vacationing with the Elderly

Even though seniors may have certain physical and mental limitations, helping them live their life to their fullest capacity is likely the best gift we can bestow on them. “Normalizing” seniors by giving them opportunities to engage in activities we all take for granted, is likewise a great antidote to potential depression and isolation so common in this demographic.

As such, taking a vacation with, or planning a vacation for the elderly can be a very good idea. Of course, there are certain variables that have to be in place; therefore, devising a realistic plan to suit their specific needs and personal requirements is essential.

For example, when planning a vacation for seniors with special needs, consider transport options very carefully. Putting them on a plane – in most cases – is ill-advised. On the other hand, some transport options can actually be so fun that it can indeed become part of the trip itself. Take for example, a trip from the UK to France, specifically the romantic city of Paris. Imagine if, for their 50th anniversary, you sent mum and dad back to their honeymoon destination, but at a slower pace. As Audrey Hepburn said in 1954, “Paris is always a good idea,” and she may just have had some insight into the comfortable EuroStar when she said that! With 12 trains per day, and just a 2 hour and 15 minute trip, seeing the sites along the way, is as The Man in Seat 61 said, “the civilized stress-free alternative to flying.” And that is precisely what the elderly need. You can even bring your own bottle of wine and really make the journey the destination, echoing the musician, Drake’s thoughts that “sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about the destination.”

Other practicalities to consider when planning a vacation for seniors include: ensuring dietary requirements are fulfilled; finding out ahead of time if museums and places of interest are wheelchair accessible (if that is their situation), the accommodation should be not be a typical teen or even young family hangout (noise levels akin to these demographics are not conducive to senior vacationing, especially those with hearing/balance issues), staff with a knowledge and understanding of seniors and their needs.

Finally, when planning a vacation for elderly relatives or even with them, talk to them ahead of time. Get a sense of what they really want to do and how they are interested in spending their time away from their everyday routine. One mistake to avoid is putting what you think would be good for them into their head. They may be old but – at least for those up for a vacation – in most cases they know their own minds!