Summer is a classic time to take a family vacation. But when your family includes someone who has Alzheimer’s, it’s best to take a cue from the Boy Scouts: be prepared. These 6 travel tips will make a family vacation fun — and safe — for everyone.
Be realistic. This is not the time for whirlwind tours. Consider your loved one’s need for rest, and plan your activities accordingly. If you are traveling by plane, fly nonstop. However you travel, keep the destination under four hours away.
Stroll down Memory Lane. Alzheimer’s patients don’t need to go someplace new. Quite the opposite: new places can trigger anxiety. Not only will returning to a cherished spot avoid the agitation that often accompanies Alzheimer’s, but it may also prompt fond memories.
Keep track. People with Alzheimer’s can wander, and it’s important to keep track of where they are at all times. Today, you can even do that electronically. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a Medic Alert + Safe Return service that provides 24-hour assistance if your loved one becomes lost.
Watch the clock. Many people with Alzheimer’s have times of day when they are more reliably at their best — or at their worst. Sundown Syndrome is a well-documented behavior pattern in which people with Alzheimer’s or dementia become more confused or agitated as it starts to get dark. If your loved one has Sundown Syndrome, be sure to be at home or in your hotel room before it sets in.
Pack smart. You should bring along anything you might need in an emergency. This includes:
- Extra medication, in case your trip is delayed
- A list of emergency contacts
- Copies of important documents, such as a medication list, power of attorney, and advanced directives
- A recent photo of your loved one
Keep It Light. In their room, that is. Make sure they have a well-lit, unobstructed path to the bathroom, and that the bathroom light stays on all night.
Know when to stop. Traveling with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s may be possible for many years. But you need to be realistic about when the disease has progressed to the point that you can no longer manage it — whether on the road or at home. If you are concerned about how to take care of your loved one, contact the experts at Atlantic Coast Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, in Lakewood, NJ, by calling 732-364-7100 by clicking here. Atlantic Coast has years of experience, as well as a dedicated Memory Center, devoted to caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia — and their families.