Going on a trip with Dementia
Planning a trip may seem easy for anyone, and the worst case scenario anyone might think is that the airline loses the luggage. But how about the hazards of going on a trip with dementia? How safe or how difficult can it get to travel with someone with this cognitive impairment?
It will require a good amount of planning, keep everything that could happen in mind when creating your trip’s blue print. Another equally if not the most important aspect to consider is the progression of the disease, it is better to travel on the early stages of dementia, since the person may enjoy the experience as opposed to the later stages in which he or she is very dependent in most of his or her needs and abilities. On those later cases, travel is not recommended.
Even in the early stages of dementia, the smallest change in their routine could cause high levels of anxiety. Consider travelling to familiar places and have the fewest changes in their routine as possible. If the person has never travelled in a plane then it might be best to go by car or train. Keep in mind that high levels of stress and anxiety could be present at any moment of the trip. A key phrase to note here: stick with the familiar.
Consult with the doctor, tell him about your travelling plans and if there are any special indications or medications that may be required to keep handy during the trip. It could also be a good idea to have a letter signed by him or her explaining the cognitive condition of the patient and if he or she is under any special treatment or therapy. Have extra copies of that letter.
Here are other few tips provided by the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Changes in their daily scenario can trigger wandering. Keep the person with dementia safe with these precaution programs: MedicAlert® + Alzheimer's Association Safe Return®, Comfort Zone® or Comfort Zone Check-In®.
- If you plan a trip for a long period of time it is best to check the local office of the Alzheimer’s Association for any further assistance you may need.
- Pack a carry-on bag with the essentials. This includes medicines, your travel itinerary, a list of emergency contacts and copies of important legal documents, a change of clothes, snacks and water.
Here is a list of documents to take with you when traveling:
- Doctor’s name and contact info.
- A list of current medications and dosages.
- Phone numbers and addresses of the local police and fire departments. hospitals and poison control.
- A list of the patient’s food or drug allergies.
- Copies of legal documents.
- A list of emergency contacts.
- Insurance information.
- When creating your trip’s itinerary, write down all important details of each destination. Give copies to your emergency contacts.
- If staying at a hotel, inform the staff ahead of time about your situation and if there are any specific needs that they might be able to prepare to assist you.
- Travelling during the time of day is best for the person with dementia.
- If you are planning on travelling by air, keep in mind:
- Consider requesting a wheelchair, even if walking s no problem. By asking for this, an airport employee will be assigned to assist you getting from place to place more quickly.
- Avoid flight schedules with tight connections. Inquire about airport escorts for your special case. Allow for extra time.
- Inform the airline, airport employees and medical department about who you are travelling with. It is also good to keep a doctor’s note (copy) handy just in case.
Planning ahead of time and giving priority to the patient’s comfort should make your trip a nice experience. Keep your eyes open for any mood changes and provide comfort at all times. For further details check with your local Alzheimer’s Association of any other information that could be useful before going on a trip with dementia.