4–6 weeks before the trip
1. Take your parent for a medical checkup and review the trip and any special considerations with his or her doctor. (Note that if immunizations are needed, it can take 4-6 weeks to complete the series of shots).
2. Map out your itinerary at a pace your parent can manage and make sure the hotels and locations you’re visiting have elevators. Send brochures to your parent to get him or her excited about your upcoming adventure!
3. Request vacation overrides on prescriptions to ensure you have enough for the length of the trip plus a few post-return days, so your parent has time to get back in the swing of things before having to refill medications.
4. If you’re traveling abroad, check that all your prescription and over-the-counter medicines are legal in the country you’re visiting.
5. Inventory additional medical or healthcare items you might need (e.g., incontinence supplies, blood glucose monitors).
6. Review and purchase trip insurance, keeping in mind any nearby medical facilities at your destination (see my earlier post “ Top 11 Considerations When Selecting a Vacation Destination with Aging Parents“; a future post will have more details on travel insurance).
7. Confirm with the airline that wheelchairs are booked for airport transfers.
1 week before the trip
8. Ensure that your parent’s bills are paid, and verify that no appointments (with doctors or others) are scheduled during the trip.
9. Put holds on mail and newspaper deliveries, and ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your parent’s home.
10. Change money and review trip clothing options with your parent.
11. Make copies of the picture page of your passports and of your credit and debit cards, in case they are lost during the trip. Stow a copy in your luggage, and ask a trusted friend to keep one copy.
1 day before the trip
12. Review which items go in checked luggage and which must be carried with you and your parent. Don’t forget to include snacks, especially if your parent has low blood sugar.
The day of the trip
13. Double check carry-on bags for medicines, prescription details, passports, and medical logs, as well as reading materials, crossword puzzles, and other items to entertain you and your parent on a long-haul flight or during a long delay.
14. Verify that “wheelchair assist” is printed on your airline boarding passes to ensure you will be met planeside on connecting flights.