Caring for a person with dementia has its challenges, even when you’re providing care in a setting that is familiar to them. The prospect of traveling with a person with dementia, then, can be rather daunting. However, with careful preparation and a little know-how, traveling can prove to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both the loved one and the caregiver. Here are five simple tips that can make traveling with a loved one who has dementia a safe and pleasantly memorable experience.
Keep it short and simple
If at all possible, avoid long car or plane rides. Four hours is a good guideline to follow. Bring along items that are familiar to the person with dementia, such as games, hobby materials, music, photos, or other distractions, in case your loved one becomes agitated. If any alternative therapies for symptoms of dementia have been successful at home, bring along items needed to provide these therapies while you’re traveling. For instance, if aromatherapy works to calm your loved one when they are escalating, make sure to have some soothing essential oils on hand during your trip.
Prep others who may be traveling with you
If someone who isn’t accustomed to being around people with dementia will be traveling with you, make sure to brief them on how to best interact with your loved one or how to respond if they become agitated. This is especially true if you are traveling with children. Talking to a child about dementia doesn’t have to be heavy-hearted. A simple light-hearted breakdown of possible behaviors to expect can help the person with dementia, as well as the child, to feel more at ease with each other.
Bring clear identification and important documents
Traveling brings unfamiliar surroundings. Even with close supervision, a person with dementia may become confused and wander away from their caregiver. Make sure that your loved has both an ID bracelet and necklace that includes your cell phone number and any other pertinent information. It is also a good idea to enroll in a program such as MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return, or a similar program in the area of your travel destination. Additionally, ensure that you have all important documents with you, in one place, at all times while traveling. Generally, these documents will include, but aren’t limited to, a list of all medications and dosages, food and drug allergies, and copies of legal papers.
Be rested and prepared
When traveling with a person with dementia, caregivers need to be well-rested and clear-minded in order to reduce the chances of wandering and agitation. This means that you should practice self-care before traveling by getting plenty of rest, eating well, and making sure that your home will be safe and sound while you’re away. It’s a good idea to have a pre-travel home checklist that includes things like considering your HVAC system and programming its thermostat so that you’re not heating or cooling an empty house while traveling.
Do your research
Believe it or not, you can find vacation accommodation that makes it easier for caregivers to relax. There are respite cottages and hotels with things like planned dementia programming, 24-hr nursing staff, emergency call systems in each room, and impeccable accessibility features. Click here to see a few options.
Author Bio: Ashley Smith is a freelance writer on The Freelancer Buzz Team—She has a passion for living a full life and strives to help others do the same through her writing.