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Traveling with Dementia: Tips & Considerations

Jun 19, 2024 | Caregiver Support, Featured, Health & Wellness, Memory Care | 0 comments

Taking a summer vacation is an annual tradition for many families, and that doesn’t have to change as family members age. However, it may require more careful planning, especially if travel plans include a loved one with dementia. Here are some tips to consider when traveling with dementia.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is not one single disease. It’s a general umbrella term for a group of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include memory loss and difficulty with language, problem-solving, and other brain-related abilities. Since dementia can cause behavioral changes, memory issues, and impaired decision-making, daily tasks can be more difficult. So, meaningful family activities such as travel require consideration and planning.

Travel Strategies

  1. Choose a familiar destination.

Maybe your family has always visited the same beach town or mountaintop cabin. Staying close to home can be a good option when traveling with dementia. These choices can mean fewer changes in daily routines for your loved one.

  1. Create a network of resources.

Your preparation should include a list of nearby emergency health services and pharmacies, up-to-date medical information, and key emergency contacts. If your family is staying in a hotel or resort, consider informing the staff about your specific needs to make your loved one as comfortable as possible.

  1. Prep your loved one.

In the weeks before your travel plans, talk often about the upcoming trip, even if you need to repeat yourself. Those living with dementia can sometimes have trouble remembering specific details. Show your loved one pictures of the destination, possibly pulling out family photo albums of past trips to the same spot, if applicable.

  1. Keep it sweet and simple.

You may want to focus on quality family time rather than grand sightseeing tours. Consider cooking your meals together instead of going out to unfamiliar restaurants every day. Family games, story-telling, or other simple activities can be fun and stimulating options for those with dementia. If you plan to go on a few excursions, choose a time of day when your loved one is typically most alert.

  1. Flexibility and patience are key.

You may need to switch gears, manage expectations, or change plans based on your loved one. Defining the expectations for the trip to the entire family during the planning stage can be the key. Ultimately, this can set you up for a meaningful family vacation and cherished time with your loved one.

Travel Therapy

While vacations and planning can be challenging, a recent study suggests that travel can improve the well-being of those with dementia. The authors call it “travel therapy,” which can stimulate the brain in numerous ways:

  • Being in a new environment can increase thoughts and knowledge.
  • Being around more people can increase social interaction.
  • Traveling can include increased movement and exercise.
  • Travel can stimulate memories and past vacations.

“Tourism experiences such as a beach visit offer dementia patients sensory stimulation, boosting one’s mood, and instilling a sense of freedom as a non-medicine dementia intervention,” writes Dr. Jun Wen, the study’s author.

Additionally, travel – by car, airplane, train, or boat – has its own set of preparation tips. The Alzheimer’s Association has compiled a handy list of documents you may want to bring along when traveling with dementia.

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory-related disorders, they deserve a residence that specializes in memory care. The Oasis Neighborhood at Grand Oaks offers an experienced staff that provides attentive support grounded in respect and compassion and personalized care routines that are as unique as the person receiving them. Learn more.

Caring for a Senior with Dementia?

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