Fulfilled living in later life
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Q Grandma loves the seaside and we’re thinking of booking a holiday cottage and including her with the family. Do you have any advice and tips?

Family holidays with grandparents can be wonderful! Times that generations spend together strengthen children’s sense of identity and belonging and help them build good relationships throughout life. A lot depends on Grandma’s health and mobility. I know a 70-year-old who has arthritic knees and difficulty walking, and a 96-year-old who has absolutely nothing wrong with them and who likes to walk miles with her walking frame, stopping for little chats along the way.

To be successful, any kind of family holiday must be planned in advance and the best planning needs to include everyone. Decide beforehand which part of the country you’d like to head for, search Google and obtain brochures or use a travel agent, then arrange a planning event with everyone around the table. You’ll probably want to avoid seaside places where access to the beach seems to be by grappling iron down steep cliff faces, so check for easy beach access when you search.

Then there are things like the facilities to think about, both in the cottage (shower or bath?) and at the seaside. Adults and children don’t mind a mile-long trek across the sand to the only loo, but Grandma would probably prefer the more generous provision of good seaside resorts.

Draw up a plan so that each one can decide what they’d like to do. It could be visiting special attractions or restaurants with local dishes, or just sitting on the beach listening to the sea. Thinking of British weather, take books and favourite board games.

I’m almost obsessional about lists, having arrived one time in a foreign country minus everyone’s pyjamas. Have everyone make a list, and on Grandma’s include her medications and vitamin supplements. Write out a notice of her GP’s name and practice address and telephone number, details of her Covid vaccinations (just in case), and any medical alerts especially, if like many older people, she is taking an anticoagulant.

Don’t forget the usual First Aid Pack containing antiseptic wipes, sprays for insect bites and midges, and of course, sun tan lotion, plus a wide-brimmed sunhat. It might be an idea to take a couple of fans to help sleep at night in case there’s a heat wave.

To summarise: you know where you’re going; what to expect and what everyone would like to do. You’ve listed important things to take and noted Grandma’s medical details. You’re as prepared as you can be, but also expect to be flexible. And enjoy!

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