Holiday Traveling With Your Diagnosed Loved One
Summer traveling with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Holiday Traveling With Your Diagnosed Loved One

The holidays usually mean seeing family, near or far. But for those who are caring for a loved one with dementia, traveling can be very stressful. Here are some tips to help ease anxiety about the process.

  1. Understand their schedule. Don’t rush to get a 5:00am flight if you know they cannot get up before 9:00am.  Lack of sleep can lead to increased confusion, making traveling even more hectic.  If you’re driving, schedule in rest stops for a quick walk and restroom breaks.  Limit traveling time to under four hours.
  2. Get an identification necklace and obtain a non-driver’s ID for their wallet. Additionally, bring emergency medical information and history, as well as a list of medications.  More information can be found by calling Medic Alert + Safe Return Enrollment Line – 1-888-572-8566.
  3. Notify staff at your lodgings. While it is not the staff’s responsibility to keep an eye on your loved one, notifying them of the disease and risk for wandering can help. Keep a RECENT picture (taken no longer than 4 months ago) handy, as well as copies.  Show them to the front desk as well.  A card explaining your situation can also be kept handy to show waiters or staff to decrease embarrassment for the loved one.
  4. Bring a night-light. Sleeping in an unfamiliar place can be confusing for anyone, let alone someone with dementia.  Bring a night-light to help should they get up in the middle of the night.  Also, bring something familiar to them, such as a photo or favorite plush item to help ease anxiety.
  5. Schedule breaks into your trip. Booking activity after activity can be exhausting for not only the loved one, but the caregiver as well.
  6. Stay hydrated and keep snacks on hand. Dehydration can lead to increased confusion.  If you’re traveling to a warmer climate, limit sun exposure.  Have them rest under an umbrella if in a particularly sunny area.  Regardless of how well they used to swim, never let them swim unsupervised.
  7. Bring an item of comfort. Whether a favorite blanket or a small plush item, having something familiar to your loved one can help ease anxiety in an unfamiliar situation.
  8. Discuss your situation with family beforehand. Let relatives and loved ones know what you’re currently dealing with, so that possible alternative arrangements can be made.  For example, instead of traveling out of state as you always have, family may be able to come visit you in turn.

About the Author Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center

At the Long Island Alzheimer's and Dementia Center, our mission is to improve the quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, and their caregivers. We actively work to achieve this mission through research-based programming for all stages of Alzheimer’s, Caregiver Support Groups, in-home respite solutions, transportation options, and additional services.

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