We all look forward to getting away from it all from time to time – to rest, recharge, and explore an exciting new destination. And those who provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease are no exception. The big quandary for these family caregivers, though, is how to manage a vacation with the myriad of unique circumstances surrounding their loved one’s care. Is it even possible to travel with someone struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia?
Dr. Verna Benner Carson, creator of the Alzheimer’s Whisperer® program, shares some helpful suggestions to maximize the enjoyment, comfort and safety for the Alzheimer’s traveler (and those who are providing care):
- Take a trial run: A mini “test” trip can provide a good indication of how the person with Alzheimer’s will react to traveling.
- Pick an appropriate destination: Selecting a location that’s familiar and not overly crowded can go a long way in reducing stress and complications.
- Forewarn all involved: If the trip includes visiting friends or family, it’s a good idea to advise them in advance of any limitations or behavioral challenges that may be experienced.
- Safety first: If the person with Alzheimer’s has a tendency to wander, it’s crucial to have a safety plan in place. Enroll him in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return Program, and make sure he wears an ID bracelet at all times.
- Consider individual needs: One particular area of concern is bathroom needs. Handling incontinence while traveling can be challenging, and keeping needed items (and a change of clothes) readily available at all times is vitally important. For additional incontinence-specific tips, check out Beverly Bigtree Murphy’s website.
- Pack some distractions: Time flies when you’re having fun! Bring along plenty of activities such as an iPod loaded with favorite music, playing cards, manipulative items, snacks, etc.
- Don’t go it alone: Especially for road trips, having at least one additional adult in the car can go a long way in keeping the atmosphere peaceful, allowing for the person with Alzheimer’s to be kept calm, engaged and safe.
If your loved one is in a later stage of Alzheimer’s and would not respond well to travel, call on the certified Alzheimer’s Whisperers at Nightingale Homecare. We provide respite care services throughout the Phoenix, AZ area, ensuring that those with Alzheimer’s or any other condition of frailty are provided with compassionate care to allow family caregivers some much needed time away. Call us any time at 602-504-1555 for a free in-home assessment so we can learn more about your needs and share with you how we can help.