Dementia care can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes the opportunity to get away and enjoy the fresh breeze off the ocean or the serenity of a lake can restore the spirit of the caregiver and the senior.
Enjoying a summer vacation might seem implausible, however, if you are caring for someone with dementia. From worries about safety to concerns about disrupting the senior’s routine, travel can present unique challenges for families.
With careful planning, taking a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar form of dementia on a trip is still possible. These tips can help you get started.
A change in environment can be difficult for an adult with dementia. Increased agitation and wandering may occur when their surroundings don’t look familiar. You may be able to get around these concerns by revisiting a favorite family vacation destination.
Because short-term memory is impacted earlier than long-term memory, your senior loved one might recognize and be comfortable in a vacation spot they’ve visited several times before. You could even show them old photos of vacations spent there as you travel.
As you are planning your summer vacation, think about your senior loved one’s best and worst times of day. It may help to plan your travel arrangements around those times.
Also, don’t overlook how important it is to consider the type of transportation you take. Air travel is usually quickest, but it is often the most stressful. Airports are busy, noisy places. Security lines are often long. Flights get delayed on a regular basis.
While most people may be able to shrug these inconveniences off, an adult with Alzheimer’s may not. It can lead to increased anxiety and agitation, and potentially even wandering.
Car travel, on the other hand, allows you to control the pace of the trip. It also allows you to control the environment inside the vehicle. If your loved one is getting restless, you can take a quick break for a walk or snack. You can also play soothing music and pack some activities to keep the senior busy.
No one likes to think the worst will happen on vacation. When you are caring for a senior who has dementia, however, it’s best to plan for an emergency. Make sure you take a copy of your family member’s health file with you on your trip. It should include the senior’s medical history, medication list, physician contact information, and the senior’s legal documents.
GPS technology gives families discreet options for tracking a loved one’s location. In the event the older adult wanders while you are on vacation, having a GPS device in place can allow you to quickly locate them.
There are a wide variety of devices to choose from including GPS insoles/inserts for shoes, and tracking devices that look like a regular sports watch. Most work from wireless technology that can help locate the wearer in real time or near to real time. A GPS safety device is a good investment anytime, but especially when you will be traveling.
If you find yourself in need of dementia care either in the short term or as a permanent solution, one of our experienced care advisors can help you explore your local options. Call us at 888-514-6461 for advice. Our guidance is always free for families!