Tips for traveling with a person living with dementia

Pamela J. Myers, Alzheimer’s Association NW and Central Ohio

        Summer is here at last. That may mean that you have resumed some traveling.
        Living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia does not mean it’s necessary to stop participating in meaningful activities such as travel. However, it does require planning to ensure safety, comfort and enjoyment for everyone.      Tips for a calm traveling experience:
        • Plan ahead.
        • Learn to recognize the warning signs of anxiety and agitation and identify strategies to reduce them.
        • Try not to overload the person with a lot of directions or too much information.
        • It may be helpful to stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible.
        • Evaluate options for the best mode of travel. Based on needs, abilities, safety and preferences, decide what would provide the most comfort and the least anxiety.
        • Have a backup plan in case your trip needs to change unexpectedly. This may mean purchasing travel insurance if you have booked flights or hotels.
        • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person. For example, if he or she becomes tired or more agitated in the late afternoon, avoid traveling at this time.
        • Have a bag of essentials with you at all times that includes medications, your travel itinerary, a comfortable change of clothes, water, snacks and activities.
        • Allow plenty of time for rest. Don’t over-schedule.
        • What to keep in mind for visits to family and friends: Prepare friends or family members for the visit by explaining dementia and any changes it has caused. Go over any special needs and explain that the visit could be short or that you may need to change activities on short notice.
        Contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 800-272-3900 to learn if services are available at your destination.
        Pamela J. Myers, MAOM, BSN, RN, is the program director for the Alzheimer's Association, Northwest and Central Ohio.


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