Tips for Traveling With Elderly Family Members



Get a Guest Assistance Card or Special Assistance Pass if you need it

Keep your Guest Assistance Card in a clear plastic envelope or badge holder clipped to your belt loop or on a lanyard around your neck, like people use for VIP passes at sporting events.This makes it much easier to show the card to cast members when you need their assistance, and you are less likely to lose it. The envelope also comes in handy for park passes, room cards, and a credit card.   Click here for more information about the GAC.

Consider using a scooter or wheelchair

Many people resist using a wheelchair or scooter because they think it is a sign of defeat.  These are just another form of transportation for going from one place to another.  The distances that a person walks each day are vast, and it is important that you pace your family so that eveyone gets the vacation they need.   Click here to see the section about Pacing for more discussion.

One of our visitors wrote: I have a tip for those traveling with an older person with health issues (heart, etc.). Spend the money to rent an ECV!!!! My grandmother was in her seventies when we took her the last time and with her heart the parks were just too hard. We rented a regular wheelchair at first but she HATED it. She was just too independent. She resisted renting the ECV because of cost (a retiree on a budget) so we did it for her... it made her trip! One thing we forgot was to bring plastic or buy a BIG poncho... you need larger gear with these!

  Click here to see the section about Tips for new wheelchair and ECV users for more discussion.

Make sure you reserve an appropriate room

If you are staying in a Disney resort and need a special room type or location, ask CRO to connect you with the Special Reservations department at (407) 939-7807. The medical necessity requests they write override normal requests made through CRO. They are knowledgeable and great to work with, especially if you have a special needs child and need a wheelchair accessible room with a bathtub (standard handicap rooms have roll-in showers instead). Special requests can state your needs specifically to help you get just the room you need.  For example, you can ask for a ground floor room for medical reasons.  They will do their best to accomodate your request on a first-come first-serve basis.  You can request wheelchair-accessible rooms with roll-in showers, or request a room with a tub.  Make your specific needs known, and they will try to accomodate them.

Keep identification and basic medical information available

If you are traveling with older guest with memory problems or confusion, put some kind of an ID on them.  If they have any medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, make sure that you have a card with their medical condition on it.  

Keep Cool, Safe and Rested

Make good use of the indoor spaces at the parks. Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid stopping in the sun or sitting on sunny benches whenever possible. Consider carrying an umbrella or parasol for instant shade. Using Misty-Mates or spray bottles with water to help keep cool. Wear broad-rim hats and sun protection.

Pace yourselves, and allow plenty of time for rest. Consider using cell phones or 2-way radios to keep in touch in case someone needs to return to the resort early.

Wheelchairs take a LOT of energy to push, especially on inclines and rough surfaces. Please make sure the person pushing the chair has the strength to control it, and please never let children push a wheelchair without direct supervision by another adult who is within reach of the chair.

First Aid Stations at each of the parks are available for people who need to lie down, cool down, or have a medical emergency. Try not to get to that point, but if you do you should get the help you need to keep your family safe and healthy.


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Last revision June 3, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Teri Doolittle, PA, MHP
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