When a close family member is an ailing senior adult, the chances are that you may have to move them cross-country or further for advanced medical care, changing their treatment center, or just so that they remain closer to you.
An elderly person can travel long distances comfortably if extra precaution and care are taken. Plan ahead for the most common senior travel needs and the issues that may arise, and you can sit back and relax.
We have compiled a list of tips for traveling with an elderly, what a caregiver needs to know while transporting an elderly, what mode of transport is most suited to transporting elderly people over long distances, and how to take their wheelchairs or other mobility devices along.
What To Consider While Considering Mode of Transport For Elderly:
Before further planning, jot down the most important factors that need to be taken into consideration while transporting an elderly/ elderly disabled across long distances. Important factors to consider include:
Does my insurance cover transportation for medical purposes?
Contact your insurance provider for information on long-distance transportation for medical purposes; they may be able to help you out with fixed amounts for medical transportation purposes.
Does my travel insurance plans offer full coverage for preexisting medical conditions and medical expenses? Does my travel insurance provider offer cancellation, if so, what kind of charges would be levied. These are important questions you need to be asking for before making the journey.
Do not leave insurance-related paperwork and verification until the last moment if you need to travel long-distance with or for an elderly person.
Mode of Transport
Does the airline meet special accommodation requests?
Will the airlines provide assistance at the boarding gates, and at the security checkpoints?
Should I Hire an Air Ambulance
A non-emergency medical air flight is useful for elderly patients who are not in extremely critical health conditions and needs to be moved from their home, senior care residence, or nursing home, to a specialized hospital for treatment or diagnosis.
If you are confused about what to consider while transporting an elderly patient through a non-emergency medical air flight, here are our suggestions:
Evaluate Physical Condition
Take into account their age, physical health, and restrictions. Provide complete details of the senior adult’s health- age-related diseases and mobility considerations should be declared so that the non-emergency medical air flight provider can prepare beforehand with adequate equipment and supplies.
Evaluate Mental Condition
If your elderly one is suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and psychological issues you could arrange to accompany them on their journey in the non-emergency medical air flight. These mental conditions may affect a person’s ability to comprehend the situation and react accordingly. They might panic at the unfamiliarity of their surroundings and it is wise to have a close family member accompany them.
Evaluate Flight Provider
While opting for a non-emergency medical air flight service, take stock of their ratings and reviews, services they provide, and accommodations they offer.
The service provider should be offering a variety of equipment, taking into account the patient’s health condition, age, and be equipped with a fully competent medical staff and professional driver in case of an emergency.
If your senior adult has mobility restrictions and uses a wheelchair, enquire whether the flight provider can arrange for mobility devices like a wheelchair or a mobility scooter for the patient.
Arrange for regular rest stops with the flight service provider.
If you are transporting the elderly patient via car,
- Ensure proper seating arrangement for the elderly
- Ensure that there’s adequate space for keeping the essentials, medical equipment
- Ensure that you factor in time for restroom breaks, lunch, etc. It is imperative that the elderly patient stretches their legs at regular intervals.
Other Examples of Transit:
- Paratransit (for those qualifying under the Americans with Disabilities Act)
- Special services dedicated to connecting elderly people with rideshare options (GoGoGrandparent)
- Local county public transportation options may be explored
Hire a Care Manager
A Care Manager is a professional who is skilled in transporting an elderly patient over long distances. A Care Manager coordinates services for both ends of the move and is well-acquainted with the local resources, medical centers, emergency services in case of need.
Hiring a care manager for moving an elderly parent or grandparent would give you the satisfaction that your elderly loved one is being efficiently taken care of by a professional.
A care manager can arrange movers and packers at both ends, set up new doctors, healthcare insurance, and attorneys for the elderly person, at his/her new destination.
Hire Specialty Medical Transport
A specialty medical transport bus, fully equipped with an oxygen tank, medical equipment, professionally trained nurses, and healthcare workers is a great way to efficiently move an elderly person across long distances.
This could cost you quite a huge amount, but always check the options available to you. Get quotes from multiple places and compare with respect to services offered, ratings, and total cost of travel. Also, check with your insurance provider to see if you have any claim options with respect to Specialty Medical Transport services.
What to Carry While Transporting an Elderly Person Over Long Distances?
Before you start to pack, make a list of all the things you need to carry.
Categorize the list into most necessary, often used, and prioritize accordingly. Pack these together in a compact bag and stow it close to you for easy access. Do not keep this bag in the trunk as you might find yourself reaching out to it too often to take pills and other essentials.
Must have items should include:
- Government Photo ID
- Government Health Insurance Card
- Medicines currently being used by senior adult
- List of medications- prescription, as well as over the counter
- Physical examination and medical records of the senior adult
- List of contacts and emergency numbers
- Light blanket and sweater
- Eyeglasses and dentures
How to Transport Mobility Devices Over Long Distances?
In the Trunk
If you are moving your elderly loved one by car, you can easily fold the wheelchair and stow it in the trunk or the back seat easily. Just ensure that there is enough room to keep your essentials bag and for the elderly patient to move back his/her seat in a reclining position.
Install a wheelchair carrier
If you do not have enough room- get an automatic wheelchair carrier which is simple to install and make it easy to get in and out of the mobility device smoothly.
An automatic wheelchair carrier can give you more freedom when it comes to personal transportation. Also, most of these wheelchair/ mobility scooter carriers offer more utility since they can be used for carrying other heavy-duty equipment as well.
What Factors to Consider Before Buying a Wheelchair Carrier
Ideally, buy equipment that has the capacity to carry more than the weight you’d be mounting onto it. As mentioned above, the equipment may be used for more than one purpose, and it would be better to purchase a wheelchair carrier rated with a higher weight capacity.
Type of Vehicle
It is important that you consider the hitch type on your vehicle while shopping for a manual wheelchair carrier. Keep in mind what type of hitch type is suited for your vehicle.
If you opt for an automatic wheelchair carrier, you may have to add further heavy-duty springs/suspensions so that your vehicle can accommodate the additional load.
Type of Wheelchair Carrier
Basically, there are four kinds of wheelchair carriers:
Automatic Car-Top Carrier
Mounted to the roof of the vehicle, this carrier can be operated by a switch. An electric hoist extends out and lifts the wheelchair up, folding it as it rises.
This carrier can only accommodate manual chairs, it does not have the capacity to hold heavier weights.
Here too, this works only for manual wheelchairs. The wheelchair has to be manually folded and lifted on to the carrier. Many vehicles have a molded bumper, in which case, an expert may need to drill holes into the bumper during the installation. The holes can be plugged if you decide you don’t need the carrier anymore. One disadvantage of the bumper-mounted carrier is that it also makes it harder to access the car’s trunk.
The hitch-mounted carrier tilts down to load the wheelchair and tilts up to lock into place. It can be attached to a drawbar or a ball mount on the back of your vehicle. Some of the carriers are manually operated, and some are automatic. Choose the one which fits your requirements and budget. In general, these Hitch mounted carriers are very popular because of their cost-effectiveness and overall performance.
Pick-Up Truck Carrier
The wheelchair is lifted into the bed of the truck by an electric-driven motor. The rack tilts and integrated ramp slides out for easy loading and unloading.
Fold the wheelchair manually and place it on the lift. For those who need additional help, caregiver assistance is recommended to use this style of carrier.
Ultimately, transporting an elderly patient across long distances can be managed smoothly with planning everything down to the last detail. Anticipating emergency services, packing essentials, deciding who should accompany the patient, and choosing what are services that you need to hire are all important factors, which, if executed well, can make the transition a whole lot smoother and hassle-free for you and your elderly loved one.