Vacations are supposed to be fun. However, if you are traveling with someone with dementia, it can be a very stressful time and sometimes even dangerous. Many family caregivers talk about wanting to travel “while we still can.” Then, they plan when and where to go. But families should first ask this most important question. “Is it too late to still travel?” And, answer honestly.
When families recount personal horror stories about travel mishaps, they are quick to add that the loved-one “never, ever did that before.” Unfortunately there are first times for everything and all too often the caregiver’s desire to get away shadows the reality of a loved-one’s limitations. Families have shared how someone disappeared from the room at a luxury resort in Mexico, left the cabin on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean or got lost in the crowds in Europe or during a trip to the Rose Bowl. It just takes minutes for them to get lost, several endless hours to be found and years to deal with the emotional “what-ifs” – the realization of what could have happened. And, these are just the stories with happy endings.
Some of signs that travel should be limited include:
- Confusion or agitation in familiar settings\
- Restless during outings or social events
- Fearful of separation from spouse
- Paranoid or delusional behaviors
- Problems managing incontinence
- Unable to state name or personal info
- Uncomfortable or anxious in crowds
Suggestions for safer traveling include;
- Stay together at all times, especially at the airport or during bathroom breaks or rest stop
- Travel at a their best time of day & take breaks
- Block hotel room doors or use bells to alert you
- Avoid Benadryl or meds for motion sickness
- Keep prescriptions with you (Not packed)
To ensure safe travels and a pleasurable vacation, plan ahead and take the necessary precautions before you go.
Caregiver’s Corner by Pam Johnson