The holidays are meant to be a time with friends and family, full of good cheer, love and laughter. For many caregivers of seniors with dementia, what is usually a happy time can become stressful and anxiety-ridden. While much of this may have to do with holiday shopping and caregiver burnout, it also likely comes from upcoming travel plans. As many caregivers of seniors with dementia know, the smallest change in routine or schedule can cause their loved one to act out and make caregiving an even harder task than it has to be. Instead of dreading your impending travel plans, try taking a new approach to make traveling with your loved one easier.
“When caregivers plan to travel with loved ones with dementia, it’s normal to be nervous,” says Jimmie Fay Griffin, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Tallahassee. “In fact, many tend to avoid it altogether. While this technique may work for some, it may not work for others who have family who would like to see them and are unable to travel to them. Fortunately, with preparation and planning, traveling can be made easier and cause less of an impact on your loved one, bringing some peace and joy back into the holiday season.”
Holiday Travel Tips for Caregivers of Seniors with Dementia
To help jump-start your planning, we’ve compiled a list of tips to keep in mind in order to make your holiday travels smooth, safe and fun. Consider some of the following:
- Keep routines as close to normal as possible.
If your loved one goes to bed at a certain time each night or wakes up at a specific time, be sure to keep that routine as much as possible. If they have trouble sleeping in an unfamiliar location, bring familiar pillows, their bed set and comfort items. Don’t forget a nightlight to ensure they can find their way in the dark and to avoid confusion. It can be more difficult to have meals at the same time during the holidays, but if you can, try to keep mealtimes as close to normal, too.
- Make sure family and friends are updated about their abilities.
If your family doesn’t often see your loved one, it’s important to be sure they are aware of what stage of memory loss your loved one is in. Update them about their abilities, topics of conversation, what agitates them and any other information they may need to know.
- Ensure you have important documents and identification.
When traveling, those with dementia can become disoriented and their risk of wandering increases. Keeping a file with all their important documents, such as a medication list, contact numbers, a list of allergies and insurance information will help in case they get lost or you need them in an emergency. Be sure your loved one also has their identification. A bracelet stating that they have dementia, as well as a tracking device, can also help.
- Be understanding and adjust your expectations.
If your loved one acts out or is more overwhelmed than usual, be patient, especially if they are somewhere completely new and there are a lot of people in one location. It’s also important to realize that this holiday season may look much different than holidays passed, and traditions may need to be adapted and altered to fit your loved one’s needs and abilities.
- Take time to take a break and rest.
There may come a time where you have to say no to extra travel and responsibilities. If you usually cooked the food for the holiday dinner, you may need to delegate that task to someone else. If, as a group, you went caroling or to see lights but your loved one can no longer handle it, simply say no. Many times your family and friends will understand. You don’t need to say no to everything, but you do need to choose what is most important because it’s not practical to do everything or else you may become burnt out.
Because traveling with a loved one with dementia can be exhausting, be sure to ask for help whenever it’s needed. Take advantage of extra helping hands if your loved one allows it and try to relax. If traveling with your loved one will be too difficult, consider a Respite Stay at a leading Memory Care community such as YourLife™ of Tallahassee. This can bring you the comfort of knowing your loved one is safe and taken care of, while you can enjoy the holidays and have a break.
For more tips on traveling with a loved one with dementia or to learn more about our Respite Care stays, please contact our team today at 850-250-5671.
Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled
If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families.
We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more!