Ask the Alzheimer’s Expert! Is it Okay to Take My Wife on a Short Vacation?
Question: Is it okay to take my wife on a short vacation to our family reunion?
Answer: It’s common for those with dementia to experience increased confusion when traveling. This could cause your wife to become frightened and agitated, but taking the time to prepare well in advance of your vacation is the key for a trip that is both enjoyable and safe!
Here are 8 tips on Traveling with an Alzheimer’s Patient to help you get started:
- Plan your itinerary well in advance. If you’ll be attending a family reunion or other large gathering, let your family know the symptoms your wife might display and give them some helpful tips on how to communicate with her.
- Try to limit the number of flight connections you have to make, as well as the length of time you’ll be spending on lay-overs.
- Changes in environment can trigger wandering. Even for a person in the early stages, new environments may be more difficult to navigate. Keep your wife safe by taking precautions, such as enrolling inMedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®
- On the day that you travel, allow extra time for everything! Make sure you both wear comfortable clothes and bring along your wife’s favorite pillow or blanket.
- Pack a small bag to take on-board that contains an IPod loaded with your wife’s favorite music; a few magazines; and a small photo album with pictures of the people you’ll be visiting or the places that you’ll go. Include medications; important phone numbers and some of your wife’s favorite snacks. If she’s incontinent, be sure to include extra supplies and a change of clothes, just in case.
- When you arrive at your destination, stick to your wife’s routine as much as you can. Try to keep meal times and bedtime as close to normal as possible. If she eats cereal every morning at 7:00 a.m., having brunch at 11:00 a.m. will be a challenge.
- Have a back-up plan every day. When you arrive at your daily destination, watch your wife for clues that she’s becoming anxious or upset. If you have a back-up plan in place, it will be easier on you both if you have to leave quickly.
- Enjoy yourselves! Spend time with your family and friends and be sure to include some activities that your wife will enjoy! Keep in mind that for your wife, it will be in the doing of the activity, not in the completing of the activity, which will make the day special for her!