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With the annual arrival of cherry blossoms along the Potomac River and other signs that summer is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan for a trip to the Washington, DC, area. Not only is traveling a great way to get out of the house, but it is also an amazing way to explore a new place, create memories, and try something new.

However, some may feel hesitant to travel with a loved one who needs more assistance, such as a senior who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. But if you take the time to plan appropriately, your trip can certainly still be safe and enjoyable.

So whether you’re thinking of taking a long weekend trip to the nation’s capital, planning for a weeklong visit, or just want to take a day trip to see something new, you can make traveling easier by following a few of our tips.

Pick Your Primary Destination (and a Backup)

Your family and friends probably already have a good idea of what they want to see and do in Washington, but it is important to make sure that everyone in the group is on the same page before you leave so that everyone has a great time on the trip. Taking this step will also allow your group the time to plan the necessary budget, timing, transportation, and lodging to make the trip as stress-free as possible. 

While you’re at it, plan a few desired backup locations just in case something does not work out with your initial locations based on weather, for example. Fortunately, between the Smithsonian Institution, the Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum, federal landmarks such as the Capitol, and other monuments, there are plenty of spots for a successful trip.

Plan Ahead for Success

With all of the excitement of picking a time and place to travel, it can be easy to forget to address some of the little details that can really make your trip a success. And though you can’t plan for everything, you can decrease the chances that your trip will be derailed by surprises by taking some of these steps:

  • Call you or your loved one’s healthcare team to inform them of your travel plans and discuss any adjustments that should be made.
  • Pack at least a few extra days’ medication in case of delays.
  • Find a pharmacy and medical provider near your destination and keep their information on hand just in case.
  • Make copies of your and your family’s insurance cards and photo IDs to keep with you.
  • Write down your plans, such as your hotel and other reservation information, and leave them with friends or family.
  • Plan for rest stops and meal breaks, if getting to DC means traveling by car. Not only are these stops good for bathroom breaks, but they are also great for stretching your legs in order to avoid a potential blood clot. 

Be Proactive with Hospitality Professionals

Hotels, restaurants, museums, and many other destinations in the Washington area are well versed in working with special populations, including seniors and those with forms of dementia. Taking the time to proactively provide the appropriate people with the information that will help your trip go more smoothly and comfortably can go a long way toward a successful trip. For example:

  • If you are flying, call the airline to see if there are special accommodations they can provide. For example, a quicker trip through security, or a quiet lounge in which to wait for your flight (as opposed to a busy and crowded terminal).
  • Call ahead to your target destination (including your hotel) to see if there are accommodations available for seniors in case of weather or mobility difficulties, as well as required assistance devices.
  • Tell hotel or restaurant staff about any dietary restrictions, allergies, preferences, or other concerns ahead of time, if need be.

Whether you have been to Washington more times than you can count or it is your first time visiting, a trip to the nation’s capital is a wonderful way to create memories and break up your routine. And if there is a senior or adult with other special care needs in your group, taking the time to plan ahead and following some of our tips can help you rest assured that the trip will go smoothly. 

While you’re at it, are you curious about what else your senior loved one can look forward to in their retirement years? Download “The Busy Person’s Guide to Recreation in Retirement” to get the scoop.

Download The Busy Person's Guide to Recreation in Retirement

Chris Harper

About the Author: Chris Harper

As the vice president of communications for The Arbor Company, Chris is responsible for digital marketing, public relations, technology and design.