Short-Term – Planning for Travel
For aging Americans, the holiday season can present unique challenges as well as valuable opportunities. Travel throughout the holidays can create stress and concern for both seniors and their loved ones. Over one third of those over age 45 are lonely and visiting family this time of year can be a meaningful way to combat social isolation and loneliness. Visits that require significant travel, however, present risks especially for those individuals struggling with physical or cognitive impairments. Compared to younger people, those age 70 and older tend to drive fewer miles and are more likely to limit nighttime driving. Ensuring you and your loved ones are comfortable with travel for family gatherings is an important conversation around the holidays. If traveling isn’t an option, consider planning a celebration closer to senior relatives or exploring alternate transportation options, such as ride sharing or public transit. If an in-person visit is not an option, set up a video call, so the whole family can still feel included in holiday festivities.
When organizing holiday travel, plan! Map out the route you’ll be most comfortable with and share your travel plans and approximate timing with your loved ones. If you are flying, feel comfortable calling the airline to ensure any special accommodations are available when you arrive at the airport. Documenting any medications or health protocols is also an important step when traveling. In the event an emergency arises, you’ll save loved ones and medical providers time and stress. Traveling for the holidays is a wonderful way to connect with loved ones and spend time in a new place. With the proper planning and communication, you can set yourself up for a smooth trip – and hopefully have a stress-free holiday season.
Long-Term – Care and Aging Plans
Family gatherings are a great opportunity for long-term planning discussions. More than 80% of Americans have not begun planning for long-term care (LTC) needs, and costs for this care range from $50,000 to more than $100,000 annually – depending on the care setting. These conversations can be challenging. Most of us don’t like to discuss getting older and needing support, but this is a great way to connect with loved ones and help them understand your wishes as you age. The holidays are the perfect time to connect with loved ones and nurture your closest relationships. Act upon the opportunity and use down time with your family and friends to have these tough conversations; conversations that will likely deepen your connection and appreciation for these relationships. Talk through your current financial state and plans for paying for care. If you’re hoping to rely on family and friends for either day-to-day care or financial support as you age, ask them what time and resources they have to offer, and understand where you may need to supplement by saving or finding insurance to cover the appropriate level of paid care.
As you think about short-term travel plans or long-term care needs, the most important step you can take is planning. Making a plan begins with open communication and support from loved ones. Make the most of this holiday season by initiating these conversations; your future self will thank you! Enjoy the holidays and best wishes for a happy & healthy New Year!