Tips for traveling with elderly parents

Geriatrics physician Evelyn C. Granieri says traveling with elderly parents can be simplified. Her suggestions follow. Granieri is chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Aging at Columbia University College of Medicine and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

• Gear your trip to your parent’s health, stamina and mental state. Those who suffer from dementia can become more confused when they travel.

• Avoid vacations that involve too much walking if your parent tires easily. “Europe might not be a good idea, for instance. There are too many steps for many older people to handle,” Granieri says.

• Put all medications into carry-on luggage, if you’re flying; carry spare medications and a list of necessary medications.


• Older people burn easily in the sun. Be sure to take and use sunscreen.

• Consider continence issues; frequent bathroom stops might be necessary.

?• Cruises are an easy way to travel; food and entertainment are provided, and mobility is less important. Some cruise lines have added family suites with two or more bedrooms.

• Plan carefully to avoid making your parent feel too dependent. “The last thing they want to do is feel like a burden to you,” Granieri says.