For Caregivers – On the Road…with Parkinson’s Part III
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In my previous two postings about traveling with someone with Parkinson’s, I’ve shared experiences we encountered traveling by air and train. Since the series of articles is called “On the Road” I thought I should share some lessons I’ve learned about taking road trips with someone who has Parkinson’s.

On the road, again!

Karl and I love to travel by car for short and long road trips. Here are a few travel lessons we’ve learned during our road trips:

  • Allow for extra travel time to take frequent breaks. When we were in our thirties, we would sometimes drive in four-hour stretches without taking a break. Not any more! We’ve paid the price for waiting too long to walk or stretch. Give yourself an extra hour or more to arrive at your destination, so you can get out and stretch every hour or two. Even a 10-minute break can make a world of difference! Do some stretches by your car or even taking a short walk can give your muscles the break they need.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and take more time for bathroom breaks. It is very easy to get dehydrated when you are focused on getting to your destination. You may even forgo drinking water so you don’t have to stop for bathroom breaks. Dehydration can have consequences both for the care partner and the person with Parkinson’s. Dehydration can impair mental and physical functions. Make sure you stay hydrated and allow for extra bathroom breaks if needed.
  • Be mindful of your medication schedule. When traveling it can be easy to interrupt a medication schedule. Don’t let the trip impede this schedule. Try to stay as close as you can to your regular eating schedule since this too can have an impact on how the medications work.
  • If you need a rest, take one. It is very dangerous to drive when you are tired. Taking a short nap can be refreshing as a long sleep. Find a safe location where you can close your eyes for 10 or 15 minutes. Many rest areas are patrolled by security or police officers. If a short nap still doesn’t refresh you, it may be time to find a place to stay for the night.
  • Using a handicapped placard. Since Parkinson’s can be unpredictable, using a handicapped placard makes it easier to access rest areas, restaurants, and gas stations. There are times when we opt not to use the placard but find that when traveling by car, being closer can make a difference entering and exiting a particular location. Research applying for a handicapped placard in your particular locality.

Although these tips may seem like common sense, sometimes all of us need a gentle reminder. I hope these tips can help you and your loved one have a safe and memorable trip!

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