When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it often feels like that is the end of life as you know it. But being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's doesn't mean that you have to give up traveling, nor does it mean your loved one can no longer enjoy getting out of the house. Traveling with Alzheimer's disease is still possible in the early stages of the disease, it just requires advanced planning to ensure everyone involved is safe and happy.
Safety is always the number one consideration when planning a trip with a loved one who has Alzheimer's. Follow the steps below to help plan an Alzheimer's-safe vacation so that you can both relax and enjoy the trip.
1. Have a plan in place for wandering.
A familiar routine and environment are comforting to someone suffering from Alzheimer's, and because traveling disrupts this, it is more likely that anxiety and wandering could happen. That is why it is crucial to never leave your loved one alone, be prepared, and have a plan in place.
Contact your local Alzheimer's Association before your trip and register with their Safe Return Program or Comfort Zone monitoring system, being sure to complete the process entirely before you leave. If a situation arises while you are there, have a plan in place and don't hesitate to contact the local authorities.
3. Keep comfort in mind when traveling.
Have comfort items such as pillows, snacks and water readily available when you travel. This includes any kind of transportation including bus, train, car or airplane. If you decide to fly, schedule flights early in the day, and choose to fly non-stop if you can. Put medications in your carry-on bag, along with any other necessities you might need in case your flight is delayed. And consider bringing a puzzle book or something similar for your loved one to hold on to.
3. During your trip, maintain a daily routine as much as possible.
Even in a new environment, having a regular routine will lessen the confusion for your loved one. Plan on waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time in the evenings. Also eat meals at the same time during the day. Create a plan for your days, organizing the days with structured and pleasant activities that you both can enjoy. Plan to see places and incorporate activities you know they enjoy, and make sure to allow for flexibility within your daily routine for spontaneous activities.
4. Consider respite care while you travel.
If you feel that traveling with your loved one would be too difficult or too disruptive to them, consider hiring a temporary respite care provider to come to their home. This will allow you the chance to take a break from your caregiving responsibilities, which can be crucial for your own health and happiness, and it will give your loved one a chance to experience quality care and meaningful activities, making their "staycation" fun and safe as well.
American In-Home Care refers care providers that can assist with Respite Care and additional Alzheimer's Care services, ensuring your loved one will be in the best hands, and will always be safe and happy. We offer free, no obligation consultations and assessments. Contact us today!