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The Caregiver's Guide to Summer Travel

10 tips to help make your summer travel manageable and energizing

For the original Huffington Post article, click here.

Lily Avelon used to travel the world, but she hadn't left the country in 10 years as her Parkinson's disease advanced. It took a simple question from her occupational therapist to get her back in the air. "She told me she loved to travel, and I said, 'Well, why can't you?'" recalls Gerard Muncic, an occupational therapist with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

He helped her talk through -- and create solutions for -- the many obstacles she feared. One by one, Gerard broke down those barriers. Surely she could get to and from the airport, and once there, she could use her wheelchair right up to the door of the plane. Every aircraft has an onboard wheelchair, so she could get around in the air, and once in Paris, she could stay in an accessible hotel. So two summers ago, with a great deal of planning, Lily and her husband traveled to Paris and had a wonderful time.

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Summer is upon us, and vacation is in the air. But the prospect can be daunting for someone limited by illness, disability or age, as well was for the 65.7 million family caregivers who help a loved one get through the day safely. For those like Lily who long to travel the world and for those who need a little R&R to recharge life at home, we have collected 10 travel tips from professional caregivers at Partners in Care to help you get to your destination comfortably and enjoy your precious time away.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. For those with limited mobility, medical uncertainty, chronic illness, or anxiety and depression, travel can bring an added layer of stress and a list of can'ts. You might begin with Gerard's question -- "Why can't you?" Listen to your loved one's concerns, address them as specifically as possible, and keep lines of dialogue open. Worried about using the bathroom on the plane? Planes are equipped with an on-board wheelchair for just that reason.

And remember, you are not alone. Many have traveled this road -- on and off the beaten path -- and share information and resources.