Hearing that a person has dementia can feel like a hard blow, but life doesn’t have to stop. He or she can still participate and enjoy activities and traveling. However, planning becomes more important. Things need to happen in an orderly fashion, and everything will take longer than it used to.
Consider the difficulties and benefits
In the earlier stages, a person with dementia can find it uplifting to visit friends or family, or go for vacation. Many persons with dementia have better and worse times a day. Adapt the schedule to travel when it’s best for him or her. Take your loved one’s condition into account. As the disease progresses, traveling can be too stressful or disorienting.
How and where to go
First of all, decide on how and where to travel. It’s wise to stick with the familiar. For example, if the person isn’t used to flying, going on a plane will can be an unsettling experience.
Destinations that were familiar before the dementia are usually the best choices. Go for options that make as little change in the daily routine as possible. It is also important to know that new environments are difficult for a person with dementia, even in the early stages. Your loved one might be tempted to wander off – even if they never do that at home.
Tips for a safe trip
Make a bag with important things and keep it with you. It should contain things like water, medications, snacks, the travel itinerary, and a change of clothes. Make sure you have enough medications, medical information, and phone numbers. If you’re flying, keep everything vital in the carry-on. Bags might not get lost often, but it happens.
Make sure your emergency contacts at home know where you’re going, when you estimate getting there, and when you will return home. Give them copies of the itinerary, phone numbers to hotels, and similar.
Consider enrolling in a system such as Comfort Zone Check-in (http://www.comfortzonecheckin.com) or MedicAlert Safe Return (http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-medic-alert-safe-return.asp). That way you won’t be on your own if the worst happens and you can’t find the person with dementia.
If you need to travel when dementia has progressed further
In the later stages of the disease, traveling will put a strain on both you and your loved one, but it might still be necessary. In these cases it can be a good idea to hire a traveling nurse to help you, or to use a long distance medical transportation service. MED Transport Service has extensive experience of moving persons with advanced dementia, making the trip as positive an experience as possible for everyone involved.