On the Road Again 10 Tips for traveling with alzheimer’s
By Ebony Parker
A person’s inability to remember shouldn’t keep families from making new and exciting memories with them.
Yes, traveling with Alzheimer’s or other dementia can be overwhelming but it can also be rewarding! Over the last seven years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving those with dementia.
Here are my top 10 tips that will make traveling with loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia more enjoyable!
- Take into account the specific needs and abilities of the person. Can this person sit for long periods of time? Can this person walk for long distances? Will they wander away? Can they verbalize their needs?
- Create a detailed packing list. Things to include in your packing list should be medication, primary care doctor’s phone number, emergency contact numbers, photo identification, undergarments such as Depends, travel pads and etc.
- Pick a familiar destination. Picking a destination that’s familiar to the person may trigger memories and possibly generate conversation as they become familiar with a place they once knew. Try going to places they may have mentioned in old stories or visit the city they grew up in.
- Notify appropriate parties about your specific needs. It is vital that you notify hotel, resort, airport, train and or bus staff about your needs prior to traveling. This will allow staff to assist you in the event an emergency should arise.
- Be mindful of destinations with extreme cold or hot temperatures.
- Don’t travel to locations where the time zones are different. Traveling to a location with a different time zone may cause disruption in their behavior or sleep-wake cycle also known as sundowning. It’s usually best to travel during the day to avoid a disruption in behavior.
- Pack an activity bag full of their favorite things. Examples of what to pack: old baby dolls, small balls to squish, books of bright pictures, play cell phone, kid computer games, clothing items to fold and etc.
- Download or bring CDs of their favorite music. Music can create a calming and familiar environment for your loved one. Music is also a good way to communicate love, peace and joy, especially for those no longer able to effectively communicate verbally. Music has been known to transcend beyond barriers.
- Rest. Take frequent stops as needed if traveling by car. Yes, this will delay the trip or maybe even mess up your itinerary, but learn to enjoy the beauty of the spontaneous with loved ones.
- Find new ways to make memories traveling. Make it a scavenger hunt when you travel. Maybe you will decide that you want to travel to see all the mountains in N.C., visit all the antique stores in Virginia, collect sea shells and postcards from Maine to S.C., whatever it is just do it and enjoy it!
After reading these tips, you may be saying to yourself But mom or dad won’t remember our trip! But guess what — you will! And so will their grandchildren. So don’t be afraid to travel with your loved ones who have Alzheimer’s or other dementia. It’s all about making memories while they’re still here.
Ebony Parker is a dedicated advocate for seniors in the community. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Gerontology from Winston-Salem State University. Her primary areas of focus include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s and dementia care. You may contact Ebony for speaking engagements, homecare consulting and other opportunities by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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