Traveling with a family member who has dementia can pose some difficulties. If it is not possible to hire respite care at home, then you may have to bring your loved one along during some travel. Being aware of potential challenges can help you prepare better for your trip to ensure everyone’s safety. As you may know, a loved one who has dementia may react negatively to unfamiliar situations. Changes in the environment may trigger aggression or fear in your loved one or influence them to wander and get lost. Planning such travels must therefore be done carefully and with some forethought. The most important thing to do is to consider your loved one’s needs, desires, and abilities. Try and plan the trip so that you maximize your loved one’s state of comfort at every point of the trip. Here are some tips to follow before and during your travels:
- Always accompany your loved one: If you do not have a caregiver with you, then you must ensure that you stay with your loved one at all times in public settings. This can be made easier if you let the airport know of any accommodations you need, like a wheelchair, to make connections and layovers go more smoothly.
- Make a list of emergency contacts: Write the names of all people you may need to call in case of emergency. Such contacts can include family members, your loved one’s doctor, the local police, fire departments, and even the airport.
- Make transportation as easy as possible: Apart from calling the airport beforehand, try also to organize a flight that has no connections and layovers if possible. If you can’t avoid these, then make sure you will give your loved one enough time to transition in between flights. Know exactly where you are going at your new destination and have maps printed out so you do not get lost. Avoid public transportation which could be stressful and overwhelming. Instead, try to hire someone to drive you to where you need to go. Taxi and other transportation services can provide this kind of personal transportation.
- Bring all appropriate medications and medical information: Before you leave your house go over all of the medications and medical documents you might think you need to bring with you. Be sure to take this list with you so you have a handy reference. Keep all appropriate paperwork organized in a binder and put all medications in a container that can easily be stored away.
- Consider bringing a caregiver for help: Traveling is exhausting and requires you to remember and handle a lot. Sometimes you may not be able to devote your full attention to your loved one. This can be a concern since your loved one could wander or may need your direct attention at any time. If you have a caregiver with you, this can alleviate a lot of the pressure.
- If you are staying in a hotel, call beforehand: Ask the hotel if they can make the transition into your new location easy by providing certain accommodations. Perhaps you can have someone help you unpack your bags, tell you the most convenient stores nearby, or provide you with a list of resources in case of emergency.
Traveling with someone who has dementia presents several different obstacles depending on the severity of your love one’s condition. The most important thing you can do is to make sure your loved one is safe and feels secure at all times. You cannot control everything, but you can do your best to focus on what you can control by following the steps above.
If you have any more questions or are interested in hiring a caregiver, then please visit ElderCare’s website or call 888-285-0093.