Summer is officially upon us and for many of us, that means fun family vacations. However, these vacations can turn stressful for caregivers who are traveling with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
Although it can be overwhelming, foresight and proper preparation make it possible. Learn more from these caregiver tips for traveling with Alzheimer’s.
Tips for Traveling with Alzheimer’s
Here are 10 ways caregivers can lessen the stress of traveling with someone who has Alzheimer’s and still keep your summer plans:
1. Carry important documents and medications with you.
These documents should include emergency contact information, a list of current medications and doses, food allergies and physician information. Also have your travel itinerary and insurance information readily available.
2. Be sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet.
This is especially important for seniors who may wander. If you do not have an ID bracelet for them, put their name on their clothing and be sure they have your number and a list of medical conditions in their wallet.
3. Keep surroundings as familiar as possible.
People with Alzheimer’s often have difficulty in new environments so try to bring familiar things from home on your trip (i.e., blankets, pajamas and pillows). Try to keep their routine the same to avoid confusion.
4. Limit connections and layovers.
Try to take a direct flight to your destination to avoid a tight connection, further distress and a missed flight. Many airlines will allow you to pre-board which will give your loved one more time to adjust to their new surroundings.
5. Keep travel time to less than four hours.
If your drive or flight is longer than four hours, be sure to have at least two caregivers present. Bring photos and toys to keep your loved one busy during the travel time.
6. Consider staying in a hotel rather than with relatives.
A hotel can give your loved one a calm place to go when the trip becomes hectic. They may also be able to stick to their routine better in a hotel. In addition, some family members may not be familiar with Alzheimer’s and might not know what to expect. Be sure to make the hotel staff aware of any special needs in advance.
7. Allow extra time.
Whether making a flight or driving in a car keep in mind that your loved one may need extra time to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Be prepared to be patient with them and allow plenty of time to make travel less stressful.
8. Set realistic expectations.
People with Alzheimer’s need consistency so it is often easier to travel with someone in the earlier stages of the disease. If your loved one exhibits delusional, disinhibited behavior, physical or verbal aggression, has a high risk of falling, or has unstable medical conditions it may be a better idea to find summer fun locally.
9. Create itinerary for emergency contacts.
Make your own itinerary and distribute it to family and friends while also keeping a copy with you at all times. The itinerary should detail your flight numbers, travel times, emergency phone numbers, medication needs and any other pertinent information. Keep it easily accessible to quickly find which can make the day of travel much smoother.
10. Consider hiring a medical transport service.
If your travel needs are imminent and you can not leave a loved one in respite care but anticipate travel will be extremely difficult, consider hiring a medical transport service. These professionals can provide ground and air transportation and many will allow a caregiver or small pet to accompany your loved one.
Do you have any suggestions for traveling with Alzheimer’s? What was your experience traveling with a loved one with the disease like? Share your tips with us in the comments below.
- How to Balance Your Life as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
- 25 Lessons Learned from Alzheimer’s Caregivers
- Ways Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s Can Have a Safe Summer