Many people are eager to hit the road this holiday season or fly the friendly skies now that the constraints of last year’s pandemic have loosened.
For those families traveling with a loved one who is affected by dementia, or memory loss, there are special precautions that you can take to ensure a safe and successful journey for both them, and you.
“The inherent stresses of the holidays coupled with the prospect of taking a trip with, or hosting someone in your home, who has dementia, can be daunting,” says Blue Water Homecare founder and COO, Jennifer Prescott, RN, MSN, CDP. “However, it can be a joyous occasion provided that you take some time to plan ahead for their comfort and recruit help when needed.”
Ten Tips for Traveling with Loved Ones With Dementia
- Schedule a travel day and time best suited to your loved one’s already established routine. Consider, for example, if they are more active and engaged in the mornings or afternoons.
- If flying, choose a direct flight if available.
- Keep medications easily accessible while en route and adhere to regularly scheduled dosage times.
- Stick to your routine as much as possible, such as with meals and bedtime.
- In addition to your regular suitcase, pack a separate small bag with extra medications, a printed medication list, change of clothes, and incontinence supplies if needed.
- Bring your own blanket and pillows from home to provide familiarity and comfort for sleep.
- Print simple cards or slips of paper that say, “Please be patient with (insert name)- she/he has dementia.” This could help during the many time-consuming processes at the airport.
- Have your loved one wear an I.D. bracelet with their name and yours, and your phone number on it, while traveling. Or supply this info on a piece of paper slipped into their purse or pocket for reference in the event they become lost.
- Ask for wheelchair assistance if you are worried about potential falls or having to make quick connections.
- Consider hiring help once you reach your destination. Experienced caregivers can assist with keeping your loved one on a schedule, grooming and toileting, and offer you the opportunity to rest and tend to your own self-care and holiday interests.
If traveling is not an option, Prescott says there are still many ways to make a connection with family and friends over the holidays.
“Schedule a FaceTime call or Zoom meeting where you all enjoy the same meal together or open presents at the same time,” she says. “Or create a memory/scrapbook filled with special photos and mementos from the past year to share with someone if you can’t be with them.”
Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, currently affects an estimated 6.2 million Americans over the age of 65.
Please contact Blue Water Homecare here for a complimentary consultation and to learn more about how we can help your loved one living with dementia continue to lead a safe, and comfortable, life at home. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.