June 05, 2024

Despite the Challenges, Caregivers and Care Recipients Embrace Travel

When caregivers travel with the loved ones they care for, the getaway is often a welcome one with many benefits. Navigating the challenges along the way, however, can be a barrier that prevents some from hitting the road altogether.

Results of a new national survey underscore the need to better understand and accommodate caregivers who travel.

Three out of four caregivers (73%) report traveling with their care recipient in the last year, most frequently by car, to visit and stay with family or friends domestically, according to the survey, which was conducted this spring. Male caregivers, younger caregivers (ages 18–49), and upper-income caregivers were more likely to travel.

Benefits and obstacles

Travel is rewarding for caregivers and care recipients in several ways.

Caregivers say a trip boosts their emotional well-being (47%), deepens connections with loved ones (46%), improves mental clarity (32%), stimulates intellectual curiosity (31%), and provides a sense of global connection (31%). Caregivers also report that, after a trip, their care recipient experienced improved emotional health (52%), mental health (47%), and physical health (25%).

What are the biggest obstacles these travelers confront?

Caregivers say their loved ones often face too much walking (41%) or just don’t have enough energy (38%). They also cite difficulty preparing their care recipient for an excursion and encountering lack of seating, benches, transportation, accessible parking, and sidewalks. Some worry they won’t have access to medical assistance while they’re away — an issue for 39% of caregivers ages 18–49 and 24% of those 50-plus.

For some, it’s just all too much; 51% of caregivers avoid travel. Top reasons for not traveling include: physical health of the care recipient (37%), high cost (31%), family responsibilities (27%), and work responsibilities (26%). Lack of free time or paid time off from a job are more likely to keep younger people from venturing out with their loved ones.

Nearly half of caregivers (45%) spent more than $1,000 on their most recent trip with a care recipient. Sometimes, they rack up extra fees for offerings or services that are accessible, with 38% of caregivers doing so. Potentially enticing them into more frequent travel would be such accessibility features as more seating at destinations (44%), parking spots closer to entrances (36%), and better transportation options (33%) both at destinations and within large spaces such as airports.

How the industry can spur more travel

Looking ahead, more than half of caregivers are interested in traveling in the future to visit family or friends (53%) or to have a change of scenery (52%). The survey findings suggest that given the large number of caregivers and care recipients who take trips, the travel industry should do more to improve accessibility of transportation and lodging. Tips, checklists, and resources for caregivers on various issues, such as how to find medical attention, or handle mobility challenges they encounter while away could be helpful.

Copyright 2024 AARP. All rights reserved. From https://www.aarp.org. By Alessandra Raimondi, AARP Research & Vicki Levy, AARP Research.

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