SANDWICH GENERATION: Handy tips before your next trip

Make friends with reality and research your destination.

As I’m desperately trying to meet deadline, my Mom is happily sitting on my couch reading my previous columns on her new iPad.

What she doesn’t know is that I’m currently writing about her physical challenges (she is in denial about her own aging, which she would deny if you asked her!) and holiday travelling.

Thankfully, she isn’t quite savvy enough on her own to navigate her way to my website to read future columns!

Mom is getting ready to fly back to Toronto and although it isn’t the longest fight in the world, it still works out to be about a 12-hour day including layovers, flight time and getting to and from airports.

My mom doesn’t complain about some of her physical discomforts — a sore knee aggravated by tight spaces, walking long distances, having to stand for lengthy periods and uneven surfaces; edema in her upper and lower leg due to previous radiation treatments for cancer and a shoulder prone to dislocation.

Travelling certainly creates some discomfort and often exasperates her symptoms.

It’s unlikely that Mom will take any advice from her personalized gerontologist a.k.a. youngest daughter to ensure her trip back is as comfortable as possible; perhaps you will take away some handy tips before your next trip.

• Make friends with reality:

Be very clear with your travel agent, transportation company (plane, cruise, train, bus) and accommodation provider about your limitations.

This is not the time to be overconfident or minimize your health, mental or mobility challenges. Not all disabilities or challenges are evident, and giving specific details allows for better service.

• Research your destination:

Take the time to become familiar with climate and ease-of-access places to go and see. Most cities are investing in age-friendly communities and will often provide information on accessible attractions. It’s also handy to find out about medical and health facilities at your final destination.

• Medications:

Ask how medications are handled at security checkpoints and what documentation you need to bring. For example, most transportation providers request that you keep all medications in their original containers and some over the counter products from Canadian require prescriptions in other countries, including the United States.  Keep all information about your prescriptions with other documentation close at hand.

Pack an extra supply of medication. If you use oxygen, airlines have rules about how they handle it and may not allow yours on board.

• Assistive devices:

If you use a wheelchair or other mobility aids, let your transportation company know ahead of time to allow for proper preparations. You may need to transfer to a boarding wheelchair somewhere between check-in and boarding, and you can ask to delay this as long as possible.

Ask how your mobility aid will be secured and stored on board. If you have a hearing aid, be sure to carry extra batteries, and always carry an extra set of glasses as well as the prescription for replacement.

• Best bit of advice:

Give travel and accommodation providers at least 72 hours of advanced notice to ensure you get the help you need. You may also want a friend or family member to assist you through the terminal.

Ask ahead of time if you can get a temporary pass to get your escort through the secure zone to the boarding area.

• Download the take charge of your travel:

A Guide for Persons with Disabilities at http://www.otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/take-charge. We’ve had excellent feedback about this guide and one of main takeaways is to use the service by calling 1-888-222-2592 or by TTY at 1-800-669-5575.  Or send an e-mail at info@otc-cta.gc.ca and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Thursday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some of the affidavits filed come from family members of Casa Loma and Comox Valley Seniors Village residents in Courtenay. Record file photo
Courtenay seniors’ homes included in class action suit

Plaintiffs in early stage of applying for class certification on suit

Untreated gypsy moth populations can cause significant damage to forests, farms, orchards and urban trees. File photo
Aerial gypsy moth control spraying scheduled for Courtenay

The aerial-spray treatments to prevent gypsy moth infestations are scheduled for the… Continue reading

MARS can now offer private spaces for its orphaned fawns. Photo by Pearl MacKenzie.
Housing natural enemies a challenge for Merville’s Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society

Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press If you’ve ever had a… Continue reading

Union Bay voters chose a new direction last fall and held their last annual general meeting on April 29. The improvement district will be transitioning its services to the regional district for July. Record file photo
New Union Bay water system working, though costly

No boil water advisories, as community prepares for transfer to regional district

The CF Snowbirds in action. (Erin Haluschak photo)
Snowbirds arrive in the Comox Valley

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

FILE – Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vile of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Friday, March 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Looking for the nearest COVID shot? Tech entrepreneur creates texting software in B.C

Zain Manji says app took just one or two hours to create

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
Two cougars killed following attack in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue members, before descending into a gorge near Nile Creek to rescue an injured woman on Sunday, May 2, 2021. (ASAR Twitter photo)
SAR crews help rescue hiker who plunged 10 metres onto rocks near Qualicum

Helicopter with winch system required for technical operation in remote location

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Most Read