When a loved one has dementia, travel is possible, but it can present some major challenges. People with dementia need special care and consideration to make sure that they are safe, and some additional effort can also make travel as comfortable for them as possible. Here are some important tips on how to minimize stress when traveling with someone with dementia.
Start Preparations Early
Change of any kind is hard on people with dementia. When planning a trip, try to get the person ready by talking to them about the trip well in advance and repeating the conversation often. Do your research about your travel plans so that you have the time to set up any additional care and safety matters that might not be available at the last minute. Minimize disruption to your loved one’s routine by taking on issues like packing their suitcase. Make sure to fill prescriptions so that the medication does not run out on the trip. When away from a familiar environment, it can be hard on your loved one, so consider having a picture of their home/space to bring with you. Finally, talk to a dementia expert to come up with a specific plan based on your loved one’s symptoms.
Be Strategic About Travel Dates and Time
While it’s impossible to predict what travel days will be like, try to plan the travel taking into account some common aspects of dementia. For example, people with dementia often become overwhelmed by crowds, so try not to travel on the busiest days like the days right before and after a major holiday. Also, sundowner syndrome may make travel in the late afternoon and evening particularly difficult, which makes morning travel a better option. When traveling by air, if there is a flight connection, be sure to give yourselves extra time to get from one gate to the next.
Travel Day Itself
On the day of travel, there are some critical “Do and Don’ts” to remember:
- Do make sure your loved one has had as much rest as possible before travel.
- Don’t pack medicines in a checked bag.
- Do have your loved one carry identification.
- Do have your loved one wear a bright colored item so that they are easier to find if they wander.
- Don’t leave your loved one alone if at all possible.
Travel with a loved one with dementia doesn’t have to be managed on your own. Before traveling, if you are staying at a hotel, consider contacting them so they are aware. Instead of booking online, try booking your travel through the airline or an agent so that you can give specific instructions. If you can’t travel with your loved one, consider having a trained dementia care professional accompany them instead. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers advice and support that can be useful.
SmithLife Homecare has dementia experts who can work with you to plan travel, and professionals who can travel with your loved one if that is needed. Contact us today to discuss how to make travel safe and comfortable for your loved one with dementia.