Caregiver Travel: Top 5 Tips for Summer Road trips with an Aging Loved One

man and kids sit in the carNow that that spring has finally arrived in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati, many families are beginning to prepare for summer vacation getaways. If you are a caregiver, traveling with the person you care for can cause extra anxiety. Even if you are only going from Covington to Lexington, the logistics and safety concerns caregivers face can make travel seem impossible. What can you do to make it easier on your family and your older loved one?


Your friends at St. Charles Community share our top 5 tips for preparing for your summer road trip: 

1.     Be Prepared   If you plan ahead, some of the anxiety caregivers have about travel can be managed.

  • o   Think about what time of day your loved one is usually at their best. Plan to travel during that time of day.
  • o   Plan your route so you arrive at your destination or at your hotel ahead of the time they usually struggle or need a break.
  • o   Many families try to “see how far they can get” during the day on summer road trips. That isn’t always the best idea when you are traveling with an elderly family member or a loved one with dementia. Instead, book your hotel ahead of time. It doesn’t give you as much flexibility but it will make sure you aren’t stranded without a hotel during the busy summer travel months. The kids will enjoy the extra time in the hotel pool if you have to stop earlier in the day than you would like.
  • o   If you are traveling by car across the state of Kentucky, stopping at one of the eight Welcome Centers    for a break might help. They are a staffed by the state of Kentucky travel experts and offer a clean and safe place for a short rest. Neighboring states like Ohio and Tennessee offer similar centers.  

2.     Have Realistic Expectations: Driving twelve hours a day when you are on your own might be achievable. But if your loved one usually naps or needs a break during the late afternoon, you need to consider that in your trip planning. Especially if the older adult you will be traveling with has dementia. It may take longer to get where you are going, but it will be worth it when you arrive safely and without additional stress. 

3.     Plan for an Emergency : It might be tough to think about planning for an emergency during the excitement of preparing for vacation. Certainly no caregiver wants to think their loved one will need a hospital emergency room in the midst of a holiday getaway. Unfortunately, it does happen. Remember to pack a copy of their medication list, physician contact information, any pertinent medical history/documents, and something that lists who to call in case of an emergency.

  If you are comfortable with technology and cell phone apps, you may want to consider a few that can help you store all of this information electronically on your phone. Caregiver’s Touch and AT Health Tracker are both free and allow you to store everything from a medication list to physician contact information in one convenient app.

 4.     Invest in a Safe Return Bracelet : Welcome centers and rest stops can be hectic during the summer travel months. You may think you can keep a close eye on your loved one, but sometimes the unthinkable happens. Especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Before you head out on your summer road trip, you might want to consider purchasing a Safe Return bracelet for them. The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana has three offices. They are located in Louisville, Lexington, and Evansville. You can purchase the bracelets through one of their offices. You can also buy it online from the national Alzheimer’s Association. 

5.     Remember Your Car Cell Phone Charger: It may seem like an obvious item to pack but it is often overlooked. Parts of Kentucky still have challenging cell phone reception. That causes your cell phone battery to go dead more quickly. Make sure your battery is fully charged before you leave home.  

Are you a caregiver traveling with your loved one this year? How are you planning to manage the travel?  St. Charles Community is Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati’s most trusted senior care partner. A faith-based, nonprofit organization, we have served elders in our community for over 50 years. Contact us today at 859.331.3224 for your senior care and living needs.