Being a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient doesn’t mean you have to give up life’s pleasures. You can still enjoy traveling with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease; it simply requires planning well in advance. Safety should be the number one consideration in traveling with a person with Alzheimer’s. Wandering and becoming anxious may be more likely because you’re leaving the familiar routine and environment.
People with Alzheimer’s disease often have difficulty with new environments, new people, any change in routine, a change of time zone, noise, and fatigue. Therefore it is usually better to travel in the earlier stages of the disease, as your loved one is less likely to become disoriented, agitated, or distressed than he/she is in the later stages.
To make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip, remember to do the following:
1. Stick to the Familiar
Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in your loved one’s daily routine as possible. This will help to keep them from becoming stressed or anxious.
2. Make Your Needs Known
If you will be staying at a hotel, inform the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you. You may want to order room service until your loved one feels more acclimated.
3. Think About Travel Time
Travel during the time of day that is best for your loved one, which is usually the morning.
4. Create Your Travel Kit
Pack copies of important documents, medications, travel itinerary, a recent picture of the person, a comfortable change of clothes, water, snacks and activities. Important documents should include emergency contact information and phone numbers, doctors names and numbers, a list of current medications and dosages, a list of food or drug allergies, legal papers like living will, insurance papers and power of attorney.
5. Have Identification
Have your loved one wear identification indicating that they have Alzheimer’s, or consider GPS enabled shoes if they won’t leave an ID on.
The bottom line is that a trip with your loved one can be a great idea if you are willing to plan ahead, be flexible and adapt a positive attitude. Don’t take things personally if it doesn’t work out, sometimes the break from routine is just too much for your loved one to deal with. Either way you are doing a great job!
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