10 Tips for Traveling With Alzheimer's
Whether it's family vacation, family reunions, emergencies or holiday celebrations traveling with a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming. Here are 10 tips to help family and caregivers prepare to lessen stress and travel safely.
Allow extra time - whether driving in a car or taking a flight, your loved one may need extra time to feel comfortable in the new environment. Stay with them while they acclimate to the change of scenery.
Make sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet - this is especially important if your loved one tends to wander. Make sure there is identification and contact information on clothing if there is no identification bracelet.
Carry important documents and medications with you - include emergency contact information, food/medication allergies, medications and physician information. Also, have your travel itinerary and insurance information available.
Consider hiring a medical transport service - if travel becomes too difficult transport service can help.
Consider staying in a hotel rather than with relatives - hotels can offer a quieter calm place and offer a better way to help stick with a daily routine. Relatives might not be familiar with Alzheimer's and might not know what to expect.
Create a schedule for emergency contacts - make a schedule and give it to family and friends. Keep a copy for yourself. Include emergency phone numbers, flight numbers, medication needs, travel times and any other important information.
Keep the surroundings as familiar as possible - try to keep routine the same to avoid confusion. Bring familiar things from home such as blankets, pajamas, pillows.
Keep travel time to less than four hours if possible - have extra caregivers to help with longer travel times. Have activities and photos prepared to keep your loved one occupied during travel time.
Limit connections and layovers - several airlines will allow you to pre-board which will give your loved one more time to adjust to the surroundings.
Set realistic expectations - people with Alzheimer's need consistency so it is usually easier to travel with someone in the earlier stages of dementia. If your loved one exhibits verbal or physical aggression or is a fall risk and unstable it may be a better idea to plan a quick one day trip.