Tallahassee to Denver with a travel assistant
[How Travel Companions are Changing the Face of Travel for Seniors in Tallahassee]
Who can I call to help my older parents in Tallahassee?
They don’t come any better than Pam Mezzina, LCSW, and Jennifer Taylor of Capstone Center/Golden Age at Home. Pam & Jennifer’s office is in Tallahassee. They put their whole hearts into helping seniors in our community. When seniors need resources, they dig in until they find a solution. Truly remarkable people.
As social workers, Pam & Jennifer both have a resolute spirit, terrific communication skills, patience & a heart of gold.
How can a Social Worker help my parents or grandparents? Let’s give a real-life example
One day in May of 2019, Pam got a phone call from a woman in Denver with a request. The woman’s elderly parents, both in their 80s, live in Tallahassee, and she really wanted them to make the trip from Tallahassee to Denver in August for a family reunion.
But she knew her parents couldn’t make the trip alone. They were past the age of driving safely and had become pseudo-homebound. Her father felt bad because, in the past, he was the one who planned family trips, and now he couldn’t do heavy lifting or driving anymore. He had also become weary of the post-911 airport environment.
My parents don’t drive anymore. How can I help them travel?
The daughter explained, “If you can find a way to help us get them my parent from Tallahassee to Denver, I know it would be a great trip for my parents, they love it out here in Denver. Our whole family loves having them here with us for these family reunions.”
Pam and Jennifer are no strangers to a challenge, but arranging for someone to drive & fly with seniors for a week-long trip, with airport connections, round-trip, would definitely require some research.
Home Health is so Expensive
Great quality care comes from a home health company. The problem is that “Long term care insurance wouldn’t cover this kind of a trip, and even if it did, the cost to hire someone from a home health company for travel would be very expensive,” Pam said.
“Besides, the elderly couple didn’t need medical care, they needed non-medical assistance while traveling.”
Craigslist and other online resources can be very random [You never know what kind of person you’re going to get]
Low cost online services might be an option, but you never know what a stranger is “made of.” The majority of minimum wage, caregiver/sitters have a tremendous sense of warmth & lovingness, and are tremendously talented in a controlled household or hospital setting. Many, however, are not interested, or well-suited, to work outside of a predictable environment.
Wendy, a good friend of mine told Pam about TripTrustees.
Pam called me and explained her case management service needs, looking for options to find travel companions for seniors.
The elderly couple needed someone to drive them to the airport and to be a flying companion from Tallahassee to Denver. It was exactly the kind of professional travel companion service that TripTrustees could provide.
What kind of people make good travel assistants?
TripTrustees Travel Assistants consist exclusively of professionals who have proven that they are responsible in their own community.
To work for Trip Trustees, the bar is pretty high. In addition to a Level II background check, they must be an active (or retired) member of one of these vocations:
- Registered Nurse
- Law Enforcement Officer
- Retired Military
- Flight Attendant
Families can hire travel buddies who are local who demonstrate:
- Core values-ingrained from training
- Problem-solving abilities and
- Critical thinking skills;
- (all skills that are essential in handling any situation that arises while traveling.)
Is Free-market pricing a good way to hire an assistant?
Free-market pricing allows each Travel Assistant to ask a fair daily rate, and is very cost-effective due to the natural order of competition and quality reviews among the Travel Assistants; Travel Clients may choose from several candidates.
I spoke with the daughter who lived in Denver. After a few days of fact finding, I recommend Shannon, an off-duty RN who was a perfect fit. We arranged for Shannon to meet the parents in person, making everyone feel comfortable with the trip to come.
When Traveling, every mission is different…and may need to be altered
There would be a handoff to the daughter at the Denver Airport. The main mission was to get her parents to Denver, with a connection in Dallas.
Shannon worked out all the detail with the family, who decided it was more cost effective to get Shannon a roundtrip ticket (instead of 2 roundtrip tickets) and pay for her stay in Denver for a few days with a rental car. This worked out perfectly for Shannon, she could visit her niece and brother who also lived in Denver.
By mid-June, tickets were purchased, plans had been laid for the air travel assistance & it was just a waiting game, until Aug 5th, the day of the trip.
It’s Go Day!
On the day of the trip, her elderly parents bubbled with excitement, a feeling they remembered fondly from long ago when they used to go on family trips.
Shannon was a very capable flying companion and gently offered all the guidance the couple needed to navigate the hassles of traveling through an airport. She even visited the night before the trip to make sure the packing checklist was complete and to offer any last-minute assistance.
From doorstep to doorstep, the trip went very smoothly. Stress was reduced for the elderly couple. They could rely on their flying companion. Stressed was also reduced for the family. They had the peace of mind that their loved ones had reliable help. The Travel Assistant took care of many details of the trip, and also added the calming social element of companionship to the trip.
Their family greeted them at the airport. The week went by fast, cooking, laughing, sharing memories and catching up and with family members.
A video call just doesn’t compare to the real thing
A Round of Cheers for Social Workers
Pam & Jennifer did more than broker a relationship, they helped make an event a success by finding a way to get the Matriarch & Patriarch to the family reunion. It was an occasion that was just too important to miss- and they didn’t!
I sincerely thank Pam & Jennifer for all their work in pursuit of such a successful outcome, making this flying companion Denver trip a reality.
Gino Fina is a RN at TMH, an airline pilot and founder of Trip Trustees, helping older Americans travel by hiring off-duty &
Americans travel by hiring off-duty retired civic-duty personnel as Travel Assistants.