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When Mom Can’t Go on Vacation

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Like many families, you may have fond memories of lazy summer days at the lake and exploring a new city or tropical destination with your parents. Or maybe it’s simply laid-back picnics on the family farm or at a state park that filled your summers with pleasure.

Family vacations could even have extended to the next generation. When your children were young, your folks may have traveled with you to amusement parks and on camping excursions.

But traveling isn’t so easy for Mom anymore. She no longer has the stamina to walk far, her pills take up half of her suitcase these days, and a restricted diet has limited where and when she can eat. What’s more, your mother has come to rely on your help each day.

You want to go, but how?

You’ve been counting on attending your nephew’s destination wedding at a beautiful mountain resort this summer. Your mother’s not up to going. But the thought of being away from her has left you reeling with guilt. What if she needs something while you’re gone? Worse yet, what if something happens to her? You want to go, but how?

These situations can pose potentially tough decisions for family caregivers, notes Lakelyn Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care® gerontologist and caregiver advocate. “But you shouldn’t let guilt and worry keep you from missing out on important family events or much-needed vacations. Why not organize a special activity or trip you and your mother can do together at another time. And then plan ahead to ensure your mom is safe and well cared-for while you are gone.”

Plan something special

Encourage Mom to get excited about something the two of you could do together. This activity or getaway can run the gamut from a special lunch to a more flexible trip, depending on your mom’s health. If your mother is able to travel, a short trip might be possible. Many destinations are accessible for individuals with mobility issues and other health problems.  Check out these seven vacation spots for seniors with limited mobility.

If Mom has become homebound, catering in a meal from her favorite restaurant may be a special treat. Invite family or close friends, add a few fresh flowers and decorations, and you’ve created a special event just for Mom.

Put a plan in place

Next, plan for the time you will be away. Putting a plan in place while you’re gone may reduce anxiety for you and your mother as well as ensure your mom is well cared-for while you are away. Several options exist for support care, including nursing homes, assisted living and senior care communities, post-hospital rehab and adult day care. Many will provide temporary and respite care for seniors including those with dementia. Contact care and rehab communities in your area to learn more.

Or reach out to your local Home Instead Senior Care office https://www.homeinstead.com/ to learn how a CAREGiverSM could help your mother while you’re gone. Screened, trained, bonded and insured CAREGivers can provide assistance from a few hours a day to 24/7 including companionship, transportation, medication reminders and errands. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care. CAREGivers provide assistance in homes as well as care communities.

Consider consulting a senior-care specialist, such as a geriatric care manager, to help you sort through your options and determine the best resources for your situation.

For more information about how to put a plan in place, check out “How to take a vacation when you’re a caregiver.

Important information to keep on hand

Whomever is helping with your mother while you’re gone will need to know important details about her, such as:

  • the primary and secondary emergency contacts
  • a list of other family contacts
  • a list of physicians (with their phone numbers and addresses), the preferred hospital and the pharmacy
  • a list of all medications and which doctor prescribed them
  • documents, including power of attorney, living will, advance directives, and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
  • insurance cards

Home Instead’s Senior Emergency Kit provides checklists of other important documents to have on file. Keep this information in a folder or binder as a quick reference for caregivers or other health care professionals.

Finally, if your mother tends to be anxious when you’re away, don’t announce your trip until shortly before you go. That will give her less time to worry.

“Getting away is important,” Home Instead’s Hogan said. “A vacation will refresh and renew you, and give you the opportunity to come home rested and re-energized for your caregiving duties.”

Last revised: August 8, 2019

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