The holiday season is when most families get together, which often involves travel. Traveling can be hectic and stressful on its own, and traveling with a family member or loved who has dementia can add to the stress, but planning ahead can go a long way to making the trip safer and more enjoyable.
Travel at the Optimal Time of Day
If you are caring for someone with memory loss you have probably noticed certain times of day when they are more apt to participate in activities or just seem happier – usually in the morning. As the day progresses many people with Alzheimer’s can become tired, agitated or suffer for sundowning – exhibiting behaviors such as confusion, anxiety and aggression.
Try and coordinate your travel to the times of day the person is more rested and often in a better mood for a more comfortable trip.
People suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are prone to wandering, which can be extremely dangerous for the person and very worrisome for family and friends. There are many reasons someone may wander, including agitation and confusion – especially if they aren’t used to a room full of people or a crowded airport during the holidays. Even when surrounded full of family and friends someone with dementia can wander off without someone noticing.
When traveling keep a close eye on your loved on and pay attention to the signs of wandering such as insisting they have to be somewhere or becoming anxious and restless. Make sure they have an ID bracelet or a GPS monitoring system such as Medic Alert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return along with your contact information just in case.
Consider the Best Mode of Transportation for Your Loved One
Flying might be a faster way to get your destination, but is it necessary or the least disruptive? Going through airport security, finding the right gate, the boarding process and crowded, noisy airplanes might not be the best option for someone struggling with memory loss.
If your destination is close enough, consider driving which will offer more control over how often to stop for breaks, easier access to luggage, food or drinks and is generally less hectic.
No matter what mode of transportation you decide on, bring along items that are comforting or familiar. Having their favorite slippers handy, playing their favorite music, sorting playing cards or other activities can be soothing, pass the time and keep agitation away.
Stay Flexible and Plan for Breaks
Recognize that plans may change, a trip may take longer than expected or you may spend more time than planned comforting your loved one or explaining where you are going.
Once you reach your destination, keep your itinerary light and allow for several breaks during the day. Planning a visit to a familiar place or family member is likely to be easier than planning a sight seeing tour to a new destination.
Get More Memory Care Tips
Our communities provide focused programming and activities to promote the highest quality care for those in cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s and dementia, and offer every incentive to celebrate life and find purpose in each day. Learn More.