By: Ellen S. Platt, MEd, CRC, CCM – President & Certified Aging Life Care Manager of The Option Group
For many people, gathering with family and friends is a time-honored tradition, strengthening bonds and creating (or reliving) joyous memories. Dementia presents many challenges in the everyday cycle of life, as daily routines and the avoidance of stressful situations is preferable.
However, the question presents itself: is safe travel possible for the person with dementia? Let’s keep in mind that having dementia doesn’t automatically preclude traveling with a family member or trusted caregiver. However, a serious assessment of their symptoms makes sense before plans are finalized and put into action. Remember, there are too many obstacles and decisions to be made when traveling, so a person with dementia should never travel alone.
5 Tips to Consider in Trip Planning with a Person with Dementia
Take into consideration the following when thinking about planning a trip:
- Determining if Someone with Dementia Should Travel
•Consider the stage of dementia the person is in
•Identify their common symptoms and problems and if these could be obstacles during travel
- Benefits of Traveling for People with Dementia
•Many losses come with a dementia diagnosis, which often includes traveling
•Continuing to travel as long as the person is able, helps minimize losses that accompany the diagnosis
•Planning to travel with someone with dementia allows them and the caregiver to stay connected to friends and family
3. Preparing Before the Trip
•If flying, book trips during the least-busy times and board early
•Arrive a few days early so the person can adjust to the new environment
•Try and anticipate problems and emergencies, and prepare solutions or actions you will take •Talk to their doctor about medication to help with agitation
•If possible, avoid large crowds and noisy places
•Bring doorknob covers and locks to prevent wandering
•Advise airlines, hotels, and other agencies that you are traveling with someone with dementia so that they are aware of the situation and can help with any necessary accommodations •Research important locations near your destination, such as medical facilities and pharmacies •Bring important documents: doctors’ names and contact information, a list of medications and food/drug allergies, emergency contact information, insurance information, copies of legal papers
- Tips During the Trip
•The traveler with dementia should wear identification and have emergency contact information with them
•Maintain as normal of a schedule and routine as possible
•Bring familiar items such as pillows or blankets
•Avoid over-scheduling the trip with activities like sightseeing that may be overwhelming
- Additional Considerations
•If possible, stick with familiar destinations
•Have a backup plan in case plans change unexpectedly, which could include getting travel insurance
•Inform family, friends, and anyone the person with dementia will be interacting with of their diagnosis and what to expect
•Try to keep travel time short
•Set realistic expectations for the trip
To answer the earlier question, is safe travel possible for the person with dementia? As an advocate, use the above tips to seriously consider the benefits and risks of not only travel but the type of travel. Be prepared for the unexpected and limit the stress on both the individual and the travel companion. Enjoy the holiday season and make the most of life’s chances for engagement, health, and as always, safety! If you or someone you care about needs additional support, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About Ellen Platt and The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness.
Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287- 9900 / 610-885-8899 (PA) / or 302-858-6449 (DE).