7 Tips For Traveling With Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is a disease that hits the brain hard, making it difficult for a patient to complete any daily task, let alone travel away from home. But when the topic of vacation comes up, don’t cringe. Trips are possible with dementia patients. Here are some tips for traveling.
Go Somewhere Familiar
Dementia patients thrive on familiarity. They’ll go to the same restaurant and order the same dish every time. They’ll carry out their same nighttime rituals at the same time and in the same order every evening. Whether you want to travel for fun or need, try to go somewhere where the patient is comfortable with, somewhere she’s been to before. As the Alzheimer’s Association suggests, the more you stick to a routine and the familiar, the happier everyone will be.
Bring along any medications and prescriptions you have, along with whatever records you think may be necessary for an emergency. Know where hospitals are in relation to your travels. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests bringing along a bag of essentials that not only includes medications but your itinerary, extra clothing, water, snacks and other activities. A list of allergies, insurance documents, emergency contact information, and copies of legal papers can also be useful to carry with you. It can also be useful to enroll the patient in MedicAlert or ComfortZone, programs that include monitor and response service.
Stick To a Schedule
Plan an itinerary well in advance. Include details about each stop and hand your itinerary to close family and friends so they are aware you will be traveling together. Keep your own copy of the itinerary with you at all times. The more you stick to your schedule, the calmer your loved one will be, and the easier your trip will be.
Timing is Everything
If your family member has been living with dementia for a while, you’ll know that there are specific times of the day when dad is at his best, and times when he has the most trouble. It’s those times that will cause the least disruption in dad’s regular activity and when he is feeling his most alert when you should travel.
Seek Out Local Support Systems
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests finding a local association chapter in the nearest city if you plan to be in one location for an extended period of time. The support groups and resources that are offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, hospitals and health centers can be invaluable in case of an emergency, where your regular doctors are not available.
Always Have an Escort
Never let a dementia patient travel alone. No matter how alert he or she may seem, that can change at any time. Even with the most set plans, they can go wayward. Always have a family member or trusted caregiver escort the dementia patient on his travels. If the patient is particularly progressed in the disease, more than one caregiver escort is advised.
Comfort is Key
The more comfortable your loved one is, the easier your trip will be. Call ahead to the airline and let them know that you might need assistance. Board early and get your loved one comfortable in her seat before others get on the plane. If you’re staying in a hotel for the night, inform the staff ahead of time just in case you’ll need assistance. No matter how or where you travel, always have a backup plan and be prepared.