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Can I Take my Parents on a Roadtrip?

Question :

"Our family is having a reunion in another state this summer, and I was wondering if it is a good idea to take my father along.  Dad is 85 years old.  He walks, though we always fear he will fall because he is not as steady as before.  He takes a few medications and is fairly independent in his daily activities.  He would be traveling with my wife and two small children.  Is it safe to take him so far from home and his medical network?"


The most important questions to ask are 

  • Does your father want to travel with you to the reunion?
  • Are you prepared to meet the needs of your children and dad?

The elderly travel quite a bit these days, it is important to make accommodations’ for them just as you would for the children or anyone else in your party.

Most elderly men will be uncomfortable if you do not make rest stops. If you are taking small children, you will already be making more frequent bathroom or rest stops for them, which will likely work well for dad also.

If you have any concerns about medications or medical conditions, discuss those with your father or his physician (with permission of course).  Make sure to bring along all medications and physician contact information for your father.

It will be important for you to walk by your father's side.  When in unfamiliar settings, we are all at greater risk for tripping or missing a step.  Reflexes at 85 are just not what they are in our forties or fifties. While you will quickly recover on an uneven surface or stepping on something in your path, your father will not.  Making sure he is safe will be paramount and will require extra vigilance on your part.  If dad has a cane, this is the time to bring it along.

Your father may be less independent than you expect, so do not be surprised if you find that he is relying on you during social interaction.  As we age, hearing, vision, as well as mobility often decline.  Because of that, the elderly do not always catch everything that is said or see all of the details.  Do not be dismayed by this, just be aware that your senses and agility will exceed that of your father’s and you may need to fill in the blanks or move at his pace.  Minor adjustments.

Understand that it will be extra work for you to bring your father along. You may feel tired or drained, more so than had he stayed home. But you will learn quite a bit about his daily routines and how he manages. This will be very helpful to know as you care for him moving forward.  Your time together will take a little more effort, but the lasting reward for the time spent together will likely be well worth it.