6 tips for traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s
If you care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you might be hesitant to plan getaways or trips with your loved one. However, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis doesn’t mean safe travel is impossible. Geriatrician James Davis, MD, offered some tips on how to make the experience of traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s less intimidating and more enjoyable for everyone.
“When preparing your plan, consider everyone’s needs and desires,” said Dr. Davis. “Take some time to think about how your travel plans might affect someone living with dementia and prepare ahead to eliminate triggers.”
Dr. Davis recommended these additional tips:
- Plan ahead and think about any problems that might arise and how you would handle them.
- Visit familiar destinations. Environmental changes can trigger wandering and confusion. It’s helpful to travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
- Build in time to adjust to the change. When traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s disease, keep in mind that they may have more difficulty adjusting to time zone changes. Plan downtime to relax before any scheduled activities.
- Discuss your travel plan with the person living with Alzheimer’s well before the trip. Describe where you are going and what you may do, even if you will need to repeat it often. A written itinerary with notes may be helpful to keep them oriented throughout the trip.
- Don’t overload your plan with a lot of directions or information.
- Don’t over-schedule. Anticipate bathroom breaks and allow time for rest during the trip.
- Travel with important documents like a list of current medications, doctor’s names and contact details, a list of emergency contacts and a list of food or drug allergies.
In South Carolina, Alzheimer’s is a growing public health crisis with approximately 95,000 people over the age of 65 who are living with the disease and about 197,000 family caregivers.
“Traveling with a loved one with dementia issues can be incredibly difficult for both parties,” said Dr. Davis. “Focus on spending quality time with each other. These moments will often be memories you will cherish the most.”
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