Traveling is a way to relax and recharge, especially with an RV, but it can be stressful when things don’t go as planned. That’s especially true for families who are traveling with a loved one living with dementia. With the summer travel season in full swing, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) offers these tips to help make such a trip as smooth as possible.
“Traveling is a fun and enjoyable way to reenergize your body and mind. It can be beneficial to people living with dementia and their family caregivers under the proper circumstances,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA President and CEO. “Before going on a trip, there are important steps family caregivers should take to ensure that their loved ones will be safe, comfortable and able to make the journey.”
AFA suggests the following tips if planning to travel with someone living with dementia:
- Consult with the person’s physician to evaluate whether or not travel is recommended or safe for them. In the early stages of dementia, a person may still enjoy traveling. As the disease progresses, travel can become overwhelming.
- When choosing how and where to travel, go with the option that provides the most comfort and least anxiety.
- Stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
- Try to travel to places that were familiar before the onset of dementia.
- Prepare identification items, including an ID bracelet or clothing tag with their full name and yours.
- Don’t forget to take important health and legal-related documentation with you.
- Time your travel. If the person with dementia travels better at a specific time of the day, consider planning accordingly. Also, take breaks along the way for rest and snacks.
- Allow extra time. Avoid the temptation to cram several activities into one day. You and the person may need more time in between activities. Instead, plan for a single activity, and have a couple of alternatives in mind if you end up with extra time.
- Maintain daily routines, including sleep and eating schedules.
Families with questions about traveling with a loved one with dementia can call AFA’s national, toll-free helpline at 866-232-8484 to speak with a licensed, trained social worker, or connect with them through AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org. The helpline is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET) on Saturdays.