Traveling with a loved one who has dementia is difficult at best. On any given day, while your loved one is out of their normal environment, a good day is hard to find. But travel plans with someone who has dementia can be quite rewarding if you have thought through your days ahead. There are several rules that you can put in place ahead of time. To make the trip more enjoyable.
Your hope is that not only do you enjoy the vacation, but your loved one does, and any family members or folks traveling with you also have an enjoyable time.
Travel Plans – Time.
When planning this vacation, make sure you give yourself enough time. Time in between getting to the airport or layovers. Make sure you have at least two hours in between layovers. This will give you a chance to get a bite to eat as well as get to your next gate.
When planning events for this vacation, remember that your loved one can only do so many activities during the day. They may even need to take a nap, which means no activities during that time. The best practice is to plan one event a day and then add meals as a social event around that.
More Travel Plans – Place.
As far as the destination goes, make it as close as possible to your loved one’s home. Spending even 1 day on the road can be exhausting, both for you and your loved one.
Pick one final destination rather than moving from one place to another. If you are staying at a family member’s house, make it as familiar to your loved one’s home as possible. Let the host and hostess know what is expected of them before you arrive. In fact, give them 2-4 weeks’ notice in advance so they can prepare their home for you.
If you’ll be staying at a hotel or resort, be sure to find the most accommodating, quiet, and calm places for your loved one. When you check in always let the front desk know that your loved one has dementia. Stay with them at all times. Stay away from noisy elevators and outside pools. Do not let lights shine if they normally do not.
Even More Travel Plans – People.
Anxiety, anxiousness, and aggression are all caused by noise, people, and unknowns and can lead to confusion.
If, after you have planned as well as you can and you find that your loved one becomes agitated or restless and you need to settle them down, there are four things you can do.
1 – Make sure your loved one gets away to a calm place and don’t rush them to move back into the environment they just came out of but let them rest there for as long as they need to. If this means that they cannot leave their room or the home for 1-2 days, so be it.
2 – If the food that they are eating is not the normal food they usually like, prepare for this. Understand that you may need to bring certain foods with you that they like to snack on during the day. Bring whatever is familiar to them.
3 – If you normally have home care come in to help you, make sure you have his or her number so you can call them to talk to your loved one or even FaceTime with them. Seeing a familiar face will help.
4 – Visit with your loved one’s doctor before you go on this trip and ask for their advice. If they become restless, agitated, or aggressive, ask the physician what medication would be best to give them to calm them back down again, in case you need it.
Remember, if other family members are not in the day-to-day care of your senior, then they do not understand what to say and how to act. Do not expect them to know how dementia works. Be patient with them. If you are going to their homes to visit, do not expect them to care for your senior. You will need to take time to train them.
Keeping your loved one safe and happy during this trip is a big goal. It is worth it though if you have good planning, good people, and good timing.
Every caregiver deserves some time to visit and share with all their family and friends. Plan this trip carefully and it can be a success. And then, in the future, you will know what to expect and how you can travel for the next holiday or family reunion.
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For more information on Traveling with Someone who has Dementia, check out my other 2 articles:
Someone With Dementia Travel: Don’t Forget These!