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FEasibility of long haul with elderly relative with mobility issues

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FEasibility of long haul with elderly relative with mobility issues

Old 5th Nov 2019, 18:57
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FEasibility of long haul with elderly relative with mobility issues

My ninety-*cough* year old Granny has expressed a wish to return from the UK to Aus, and spend her twighlight years with her sons and their familes who all live there. However she is a) entirely immobile and b) insisting that she must fly. Short of a medevac flight (we'll keep buying the lottery tickets...), is there any way of getting her back home on a standard commercial flight? Our main concern is that whilst she isn't entirely incontinent, she would need help with "personal functions" and there simply isn't room for manouevre in an aircraft loo (she'd need to be lifted on and off - amongst other things involving at least one helper).

Can anyone advise on the practicalities or is it a complete no-go? We've promised we'll take her request seriously and would try our best to find a way for her to go home. This community is my best shot.

She's refused to consider going by cruise liner, on the the grounds that she can't swim and is terrified of the ocean. Our protestations that she probably couldn't fly unaided either, are cutting no ice!

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 5th Nov 2019, 20:06
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It's possible. First talk to her doctor, and make sure she is probably fit enough not to keel over half way. The airline may ask for this anyway. Then decide on the route. If it's at all possible, have a family member accompany her, to help with bodily needs, getting to the hotel, etc. It is best to break the journey into stages with flight during the day, a night or two in a decent hotel between each flight. You really don't want her sitting still for more than seven or eight hours. Consider going business class anyway, with a lie flat seat. Obviously book assistance at all airports and hotel transfers. You won't want to be leaving her by the exit while you are looking for a taxi. Oh, and use incontinence pants or pads for her if you think it's possible that she will have a problem. You might need to be very tactful here.

But on the whole, it's possible. Full time wheelchair users travel by air, after all. On their own. Most of the reasons for traveling with her are down to her doing something new at an advanced age, and giving her moral support.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 02:51
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One of the quotes you will have to get is for travel insurance. If the doctor says that she can travel, you then need insurance as being stranded mid-trip with a medical problem could be tricky. The airline may request that too. Routing will be dependent on cost and final destination. If it's SYD that gives you numerous options.

You would have to be business class as a minimum, which includes the companion. If she can rest horizontal for most of the flights, that would help a great deal.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 03:14
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Son of Slot
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Hello ConnieTrail and welcome to the cabin. That is one heck of an 'ask' your relative has made and it is going to cost, whilst not as much as a medevac, it will be significant. My own mother wanted to travel long haul when she was in her late 80s but the doctor said No. I expect more people will offer information in the next couple of days, if you can be patient. It most unfortunate that she is frightened of the ocean.
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Old 6th Nov 2019, 06:53
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Lovely that your Gran wants to go to see her sons and family - However it seems she will need to be accompanied by a relative, or carer on the flight, plus her Doc has to say she is OK to fly or go by sea.
QF say You must travel with a carer if you're unable to self-toilet.
The non-stop QF LON to PER is possibly one easier hop....They have a Disabled/accessible loo on their 787 in the centre of the cabin.

PS I am in Dorset too -
My first thoughts were to take a Cunard ship to down-under but the Queen Elizabeth sailed last Sunday to Fremantle which was a quick passage - 28 days
The Queen Mary sails on 10 JAN 2020 to Oz via the far east to Darwin Brisbane then SYD - but a long voyage 48-56 days
P&O may too have a voyage from SOU.
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 09:12
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Originally Posted by rog747 View Post
Lovely that your Gran wants to go to see her sons and family - However it seems she will need to be accompanied by a relative, or carer on the flight, plus her Doc has to say she is OK to fly or go by sea.
QF say You must travel with a carer if you're unable to self-toilet.
The non-stop QF LON to PER is possibly one easier hop....They have a Disabled/accessible loo on their 787 in the centre of the cabin.

PS I am in Dorset too -
My first thoughts were to take a Cunard ship to down-under but the Queen Elizabeth sailed last Sunday to Fremantle which was a quick passage - 28 days
The Queen Mary sails on 10 JAN 2020 to Oz via the far east to Darwin Brisbane then SYD - but a long voyage 48-56 days
P&O may too have a voyage from SOU.
But as the OP posts she declines to travel by sea on the grounds that she cannot swim, she insists upon travelling by flight(s) but doesn't listen to the logic that,she cannot fly unaided as she cannot swim.

That quickie sea voyage to Fremantle sounds ideal, if it were me I would bullshxt that we had entered her name in to a draw and hey, guess what grandma, you have won a free business class cruise to Australia!
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 10:35
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I'm a Sydney boy living in Switzerland. I've flown Geneva-Sydney twice with my elderly only-slightly-mobile Swiss mother-in-law. The first time, she was in her mid-eighties and we went with her, my 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, and my wife who was 6 months pregnant with #3. The second time, Grandma was in her late eighties and we had 3 kids under 6. It took me years to recover from these expeditions, but I am glad to have the chance to share what I have learned, in the hope it will be of some help to the OP.

1. As others have noted, it is possible, but Granny will need to be accompanied by an able-bodied person, preferably one with a cool head and experience of long-haul air travel.

2. She (and her carer) must go business class (at least) on a decent airline. Do not attempt to do this in economy, or even premium economy. "Decent airline" in this case means not just one with shiny planes and fancy seats, but one with frequent connections (so if you miss one, you don't have to wait 3 days or be re-routed via Mumbai and Denpassar) and a level of customer service that will allow you to speak to a knowledgeable human employee by phone in advance of travel to make sure everything is arranged and in order. I would suggest Singapore Airlines or Emirates. Get a single ticket on a single airline and avoid any code-shares. None of this will be cheap, but if your date of travel is flexible (which presumably it is in this case) there are sometimes promotional 2-for-1 "companion fares" in business class.

3. There is a question whether it is better to have fewer stops with longer flights, or vice versa. We tried both options, and while there are pros and cons of each, I think on the whole for elderly people the shorter flights are easier to manage, even given the considerable faff factor and logistical challenges of stopovers. 18 hours to Perth is too long; even the 14-hour flights from Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Doha to Sydney are pushing it. I would suggest Singapore Airlines with a single stopover in Singapore (12 hours London-Singapore followed by 8 hours Singapore-Sydney). For shorter flights, you could try Emirates London-Dubai-Singapore-Sydney, with stopovers in Dubai and Singapore.

4. I know this doesn't apply in your case, OP, but for the love of God, do not attempt this kind of trip with both elderly people and toddlers at the same time.

Good luck!
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 13:44
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Although not directly involved with your question please make sure your elderly relative has all their finances, internet banking ( especially passwords), will, Power of attorney etc sorted out before they leave the U.K. I have recently been involved with a similar aged relative moving Australia to U.K and it has been an administrative/legal nightmare. It took six months to get the admin sorted and I have heard tales that it has taken some people eighteen months!
Good luck

Rgds
AyrTC
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Old 7th Nov 2019, 17:36
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Originally Posted by PAXboy View Post
One of the quotes you will have to get is for travel insurance. If the doctor says that she can travel, you then need insurance as being stranded mid-trip with a medical problem could be tricky.
My guess is that travel insurance covering mid-trip medical treatment or medevac will not be available for purchase by a 90+ year old. Especially one with pre-existing conditions. Rather, the best that will be available will be the medical coverage that Granny currently has. It may, or may not, cover illness or injury while abroad -- or may be severely limited in such coverage. You need to check this out very closely.

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Old 8th Nov 2019, 10:08
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Wow! Thanks for such speedy posts everyone. So much great information and possible ways forward. On your posts:

- Travel insurance is certainly going to be "interesting" - thanks for the reminder. That could be the aspect that stops the entire enterprise and I'll do more investigation on that before going further. She doesn't have any medical cover at the mo as it's not necessary in the UK (for the time being...)

- Her GP has already said that she's fit to fly and is happy to write an official letter/document to that effect. We were actually quite surprised. *IF* we can get insurance, hopefully that aspect is covered until we get to the plane, at which point we know the Captain will have the final say.

- She needs to get to Perth, so the info that there's a direct flight from the UK with an accessible toilet, is invaluable. Thank you!

- I'm not sure how feasible it is to make the journey in shorter hops. The logistics of getting on/off and hotel stays, might prove a major stumbling block. It would extend the journey by days and she's keen just to get the trip over with.

- Business class sounds the only option, so thanks for that. A lie-down seat would be vital on a long-haul flight.

- She routinely uses incontinence pads and seat pads to supplement her personal needs, so those won't be an issue.

- We had always assumed that it would take at least two people to accompany her - one family member and we were hoping that we could hire someone with nursing experience as the other. Having a cool head is already a 'must' when dealing with Granny

- The cost was always going to be humungous, but given what her care home are charging, she could probably get home for what it would cost in residential fees for two or three years (for somewhere she desperately doesn't want to be).

- We're already used to helping her manage her finances, which are split between Aus and the UK. There shouldn't be any surprises (no internet banking). She has a will and doesn't own any property in either country. Having already moved from supported semi-independent living into a care home, there are no belongings, utilities etc to be sorted.

- We do wish we could persuade her onto a cruise liner, which would have plenty of room to maneouvre if we choose the right cabin, plus a fully fitted out medical facility in case of emergencies. We've presented her with the Cunard brochure for the voyage to Freemantle, but even the thought of luxury travel has no appeal if it's going to have her on the ocean. She won't even take an hour long pleasure cruise around her local bay. She has all the marbles she was born with, and is unlikely to fall for the surprise ticket win. Might be worth a try though


I think travel insurance is the first aspect for me to look at. That might scupper the entire enterprise before we go any further.

Incredibly useful chat - thank you all so much for your thoughts. Plenty of food for thought.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 15:46
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Son of Slot
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If she has the money, then a 'blast through' in Biz on the Qantas direct may well be the answer. Let us know what happens - either way - as this information may be useful to future readers.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 16:20
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Iím thinking a cruise would be infinitely more convenient and less stressful for everybody involved.
Less medical risk also with no pressurization.
Itís rare but loss of cabin pressure does occasionally occur and it could very well turn into a full blown medical emergency if not outright fatal.
A real bed to sleep and real restrooms for the disabled and real meals and real entertainment.
And itís probably less then half the cost.
im trying not to be facetious but this sounds a lot like ďI want I want I wantĒ without regard of what youíre asking from others around you.
Maybe time to tell her itís not the days of the Titanic anymore.
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Old 8th Nov 2019, 17:03
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Originally Posted by B2N2 View Post
Iím thinking a cruise would be infinitely more convenient and less stressful for everybody involved.
Less medical risk also with no pressurization.
Itís rare but loss of cabin pressure does occasionally occur and it could very well turn into a full blown medical emergency if not outright fatal.
A real bed to sleep and real restrooms for the disabled and real meals and real entertainment.
And itís probably less then half the cost.
im trying not to be facetious but this sounds a lot like ďI want I want I wantĒ without regard of what youíre asking from others around you.
Maybe time to tell her itís not the days of the Titanic anymore.

SS Normandie CGT French Line 1939 Passengers awaiting to go into dinner 1st class Dining Room 104 menu items in 8 courses yum yum Give me the ship any day Cunard is not too far removed from the above
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 09:02
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You also need to make sure that the Australian's will let her in . They have been taking a fairly robust attitude to elderly people coming from other countries to Australia where they use facilities paid for by the Aussie taxpayer.

She may well have to put up some sort of bond, insurance or payment.

Google "Australia Immigration Elderly people" for information.

It looks a painful exercise to be honest. Good Luck!
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Old 9th Nov 2019, 13:46
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Welcome to the forum Asturias56 and thanks for that contribution - good call.
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