Dementia, whether Alzheimer’s Disease or in some other form, can drastically affect and alter your loved one’s life. Simple tasks which were once effortless can become tedious and difficult, both mentally and physically. The thought of traveling with a dementia patient may seem overwhelming, and may cause families try to avoid the process.
Still, there are times when travel may become necessary or desirable – a wedding, a family reunion, or even travelling to meet a specialist. If you were wondering “but can someone with dementia travel?” , the answer is generally yes. However, there are some steps you should consider in order to make the travel as easy on the dementia patient as possible – as well as to reduce your own stress and anxiety.
Be Expedient: Now is not the time to take the scenic route, or to save a few extra dollars by adding layovers. Choose the shortest way between point A and point B, and limit the amount of time that your dementia patient will need to be travelling.
Know Their Routine: Often dementia patients do better at certain times of the day. Some may be much more lucid in the morning, while others need time to wake up and get into their routine. Others may do better in the late afternoon. Determine what is the best time of day to travel with your loved one – or conversely, avoid those times which are routinely difficult and they seem to struggle. Traveling during “good times” may allow them to better handle the unfamiliarity and change.
Call TSA: If you will be flying, call ahead to find out if there are special procedures for dementia patients which can help to ease the security process. When you arrive at the airport, have an attendant call down to security to let them know you are coming. Expedited security lines and easier procedures can help greatly in reducing confusion.
Limit Travel Days: Experts recommend traveling no more than 4 hours at a stretch with a dementia patient. If driving, keep trips short. If flying, try to take the most direct flight. If travel days are going to be longer, you may wish to have more than one caregiver along for the ride. Although dementia travel is possible, it can be exhausting for the caregiver. That being said, don’t cut a flight too close to have to rush through the airport. Simply find a quiet place in the airport to sit and make sure you are not rushed. You can ask if there is an area apart from the general population that may be less confusing to wait for your flight.
Prepare Documentation: Keep a carry-on bag with you which contains all necessary medications, prescriptions and doctors’ notes. You may also want to have plenty of your loved ones’ favorite snacks, or a favorite object, photos, or anything that may help to calm them if they are getting agitated. You should also put an ID bracelet on your loved one, with their name and condition, and your contact information. While you shouldn’t leave the dementia patient’s side while traveling, if you get separated you will need to get back together quickly.
Remind Them Often: Tell them often where they are, why you are traveling, and what the plans are. If they remember people from their past who will be there, remind them they will see them there. Remain patient and calm and remind yourself that this is confusing and challenging for your loved one.
Make Accommodation: When you reach your destination, you may wish to stay in a quiet hotel room rather than a crowded family home. If that is not possible, allow the dementia patient to have a quiet room which can be closed off where they can relax without a lot of distraction, activity and stimulation.
Can a person with dementia travel? Yes, with adequate preparation and patience.
If you have a loved one with dementia and are in need of a memory care center, come visit A Banyan Residence of Venice .We would love to give you a tour and discuss your loved one’s needs.