Whether your family has traveled to the same spot for decades or you explore new destinations every few years, summer vacations are special times to spend with family and friends. If someone in your travel party has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, that doesn’t mean family vacations have to stop. It just requires plenty of extra care and consideration to plan a trip with a loved one with dementia. “Traveling with someone with dementia can be a challenge, but caregivers can plan to make traveling smoother with the right preparations and accommodations,” says Rob Low, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, Florida. “From choosing a destination to deciding the best method of transportation, planning a vacation with your loved one involves many careful decisions. The rewards of the trip, though, are often worth the time spent preparing. You and your loved one can spend quality time together and enjoy all the benefits of a special retreat.”
Planning Carefully for Caregiving
Experts from the Alzheimer’s Association® offer valuable advice for those planning to take a loved one with dementia along on vacation. From their insight, as well as the expertise of YourLife™ of Pensacola’s team members, we’ve compiled a list of Dos and Don’ts for taking a trip with your loved one.
- DO: Choose a destination where it’s easy to control the environment.
For example, traveling someplace familiar to your loved one can add an element of control because of its familiarity. Places where you can control your schedule, the temperature of the room, when you can eat, etc., allow you to make it easier for your loved one to relax and feel at home.
- DO: Consider different modes of travel.
When choosing whether to drive or fly, consider what will be the least stressful for your loved one. The business of airports can be overwhelming, but the speed it provides may be best compared to a day of driving.
- DON’T: Wait until the last minute.
Plan and book accommodations early. The less time you give yourself to make preparations, the fewer options you’ll have within your control, such as flight times and room availability.
- DO: Be aware of your own limitations.
Recognize what you can and can’t handle. If the stress of traveling a far distance is too much to do on your own, consider hiring a professional care companion or taking a shorter trip somewhere close by.
- DO: Pack a bag with all the essentials.
It’s wise to keep a small bag with you at all times with some essential items for your loved one, such as medications, a change of clothes, water and snacks, a copy of your itinerary, a list of emergency contacts and photocopies of important documents (ID, passport, power of attorney).
- DO: Take advantage of airport services.
Consider how to make air travel easier for you and your loved one. Ask to have a wheelchair available to make navigating terminals easier with an employee to help you get from place to place. Let TSA agents and in-flight staff know that your loved one has dementia so they understand your need for special attention or accommodations.
- DON’T: Avoid asking for help.
If you are embarrassed to ask for help or tell people that your loved one has dementia, it may not be wise to travel. The odds of you needing help during your trip are high.
- DO: Schedule extra time for everything.
Traveling with someone with dementia will take longer than if they did not require care. Plan extra time for each leg of the journey and every activity you have in mind.
- DO: Locate nearby resources.
As you plan your vacation, locate and write down the phone numbers and addresses of nearby pharmacies and urgent care centers. It may even help to contact the local Alzheimer’s Association® chapter to learn what areas or attractions may or may not be dementia-friendly.
- DON’T: Leave your loved one alone.
Even in the early stages of dementia, new places can cause a person to wander. Be careful not to leave your loved one alone in a public place or at a hotel. In the chance that your loved one might get lost, you may want to enroll ahead of time in a program such as MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association® Safe Return®.
- DO: Expect changes to your plans.
Traveling with a loved one with dementia can create unexpected circumstances. Be aware that your travel plans may have to change. Consider investing in travel insurance or having several backup plans in place for activities to do during your trip.
Do Ask for Advice from the Experts
At YourLife™ of Pensacola, our team members are experts in providing excellent care to seniors with dementia. Don’t hesitate to call us and ask for advice on traveling with a loved one or taking summer vacations. If your loved one’s dementia has progressed so far as to make traveling too difficult, consider the option of respite care. Respite stays at a memory care community can allow your loved one to receive professional care and security while you go on vacation. And because community life can often feel like a resort with lively programming, personal attention, prepared meals and more, your loved one can still enjoy a little vacation, too. Contact YourLife™ of Pensacola today to learn more about respite care.
The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.
Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more!