Fly Away Snow Birds

Originally published in on Dec. 3, 2013:

Many seniors are leaving our cold climate and heading someplace warm- at least for a couple of months.

Like anything else, pre planning can go a long way in minimizing the change and reducing the adjustment time, especially if the traveler is dealing with memory issues. If you are helping an older friend/family member organize their trip, I have provided a few tips.

In terms of packing, it is suggested the following be included as part of your carry on baggage:

-Health insurance (if travelling outside Canada)
-Extra medication and a pharmacy print out of current medications and dosages
-Contact list including doctor’s and family information (and health care numbers)
-Night lights

As you may know “A Geriatric Care Manager is a health and human services specialist who acts as a guide and advocate for families who are caring for older relatives or disabled adults. The Geriatric Care Manager is educated and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care.” You may also want to hire a local expert in preparation of your trip in order to have them identify appropriate local resources and supports. You can find a care manager at

If you are travelling with someone with dementia, understand that the change in environment and routine may have a negative impact. If they are not sleeping, you may not be either.

Some retirement residences offer short term stays and this may be a reasonable alternative to staying in a hotel or pursuing rental accommodations.

Support services are available in most larger cities so hiring a personal support worker or companion may also be helpful. There are also companies that provide travel accompaniment and this too may be a helpful resource.

A few pre planning tips as you get your passport ready….

-Audrey Miller

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