Q. I am taking my parents on a vacation. Do you have any traveling tips that might help keep them comfortable with their arthritis?
A. Sounds to me like your parents have a really caring son. By asking how to keep them comfortable, you are taking the first step in helping to ensure a safe and healthy vacation.
You didn’t mention what form of arthritis your mom and dad have, but no matter. The general pattern for all types is the same: pain, stiffness, swelling, fatigue and limitation of movement in certain areas of the body. The most common locations for arthritic problems include the hands, knees, hips and spine. When this occurs, the resulting inconvenience and pain often hinders a person’s independence and the ability to freely travel to any destination. However, the good news is that with advance planning, proper selection of a destination and knowing your folks’ physical limitations, you can still take them on a wonderful vacation.
For starters, a good source to consult is the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (www.sath.org). Its Web site is loaded with information to assist people with disabilities in making their travel plans. From simple tips to in-depth advice, these ideas can make your families’ trip more pleasant and enjoyable.
Next, I’d suggest that your folks discuss the travel plans with their physician. It is important to have up to date immunizations, as well as enough medications to last for the whole trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays. And please, have them keep the medicine in their carry-on luggage. I also like to give my patients an extra written prescription just in case the medications get lost. An extra measure of safety would be for your parents to wear Medic Alert bracelets. This is important if you are not available in an emergency, especially if your folks are on steroids or other immunosuppressive medications.
If you’re traveling to a different time zone, a good way to ensure proper dosing of medications is to carry a pillbox. These neat little items have separate compartments for each day’s dose of meds. You can even label the times they need to be taken. To make it even easier, take along an extra watch set to your parents’ home time zone to keep the pill dosing to their usual times of the day.
Here are some other travel tips:
- If traveling by plane, ask to get priority seating before the plane gets crowded.
- Take nonstop flights if possible to avoid extra walking from gate to gate.
- If a wheelchair is needed, contact the airline ahead of time to make arrangements.
- Use lightweight luggage on wheels.
- If traveling by car, take frequent rest stops to minimize stiffness.
- When booking hotel rooms, choose a handicapped access room, preferably one close to the elevator. These special rooms have devices to make it easier for toileting, showering and getting into and out of the bed.
- Take short trips first to see how they do and to fine-tune your travel routine.
- Consider trip or travel insurance to help pay for medical services in case they are needed.
I’m glad your folks aren’t letting their arthritis keep them from enjoying life. However, take it slow, don't pack too many activities into one day, and allow them adequate time to rest. After all, it is a vacation.
be well, feel better
Get the facts on staying healthy and comfortable when the temperature rises.
Trick your brain into doing what you want it to do.
Which are just gross, and which are truly dangerous?
Plus, tips from experts on ways to drop those excess pounds
How to use color therapy to feel better.
Banish stress and enjoy a greater sense of balance in your life.
No painkillers? No problem.
Bypass these bad habits to avoid looking old beyond your years.