December 22, 2014
Last year, my family had the opportunity to take a lengthy road trip with our ninety-something-year-old Grandma. At first, we wondered if we were a little crazy, but it turned out to be a precious time for all of us. Here are ten tips we learned along the way.
1. Be prepared.
Does Grandma take medicine? Make sure it’s packed. Will there be a lot of walking? Take her walker along. Does she need to eat regularly? Bring yummy snacks or plan to stop for treats.
2. Keep the pace reasonable.
No matter how spry they might be, older people usually get tired more easily. Remember this as you plan your trip. Also, keep in mind that you will need to make more comfort stops along the way.
3. Look for activities that work.
Try to pick attractions that fit her needs (handicap accessible, level walking paths, good places to sit, etc.). Maybe an antique mall, tidy shopping center, or quiet restaurant will fit the bill.
4. Trade off.
Let’s face it, no matter how much we love each other it can be trying to be with another person 24/7. On our trip, we took turns walking, talking, and just being with Grandma. That way everyone enjoyed some space, and we each got to visit personally with Grandma.
5. Look for new experiences.
Now that Grandma is in her nineties it can be hard to find things she hasn’t done, but – happy days! – she had never been at a BassPro Shop or a Chick-fil-A. And, oh, did we have fun at those stops! What new things might you be able to share with your loved one?
6. Ask for stories.
Road trips tend to get long, and listening to books or talks on CD doesn’t always work for someone with a hearing aid, so Grandma became our talking book! Don’t be afraid to ask questions; older people really appreciate that someone values their stories, their very lives. Write down some questions to ask and keep the list with you in case you have a good-story moment!
7. Give her liberty to rest or join in the fun.
Once we reached our destination, Grandma often relished being a part of whatever was going on. Other times she preferred to relax with a good book or word search puzzle. We tried to make her feel welcome either way.
8. Live lightheartedly.
“A joyful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22, ESV) When some little thing goes wrong, turn it into a joke. When it seems like the road will never end, tell a funny story. When you’re at the restaurant and an edible disaster occurs, chuckle about what a good memory it will be someday. We are blessed that Grandma has become a wonderful example of lighthearted life for us.
9. Give her some way to give back.
Most people don’t want to be just takers, especially from their family members. They want to be able to give back somehow. Allowing this to happen keeps their dignity, gives them joy, and makes your relationship more balanced, helping you stay away from burnout. Your loved one’s way of giving back might be treating you all to dessert, showing you a special place, being in charge of some little aspect of the trip, sewing on your buttons or even simply sharing stories. Whatever it is, treasure it as a gift from the heart.
10. Ask God to order your days…and trust Him to do it.
Traveling with a family member who is just a little bit older presents its own challenges and blessings. Things likely won’t work out quite as you planned, but as you ask your Heavenly Father to order your days, you can trust that they will go as He has planned. This takes away the pressure to “get it right” or “make things happen”. It is only by God’s grace that we can live to love and value those whom the world calls valueless but He calls priceless.
By Kristen Hammer, originally posted for www.alittlebitolder.com. Original article link: http://alittlebitolder.com/ten-tips-for-traveling-with-grandma/