It goes without saying that travel opens up a world of possibilities and the same can also apply to those suffering from memory loss. Of course, there are certain limitations when it comes to traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia, depending on their prognosis and stage, but it’s not outright impossible or out of the question when approached seriously.
After all, many caretakers don’t have a choice other than to take their loved one along should a family emergency or wedding pop up out of town. But just exactly how does one go about traveling under these circumstances with so many limitations and precautions to keep in mind?
First and foremost, safety is your top priority when traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia and Susan Howland of the Alzheimer’s Association of California’s Southland Chapter agrees. “Safety is going to be the biggest concern,” she claims. “It’s taking an honest look at where that person is in the disease process and what are the challenges that crop up for that person in determining if they would benefit from, enjoy and be safe traveling.”
For example, someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may be overwhelmed with directions from the airport to the hotel; however, using a GPS or other technological systems may help alleviate some anxiety and confusion.
In general, people suffering from either disease prefer predictable and familiar environments. Yet if travel is unavoidable, do your best to bring about that familiarity by taking usual routes by train, air or car. Also, packing reading material and crossword puzzles, as well as other electronic devices to keep minds occupied, will help them from getting worried or distracted when encountering unfamiliar surroundings.
An additional level of safety and security is purchasing medical alert systems in the distance a loved one with memory loss wanders off and has difficulty finding their way back. Regardless of your precautions, knowing their importance is the first step to ensuring a safe and enjoyable travel experience.
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