De­men­ti­afriendly hol­i­day trav­el­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FIFTY PLUS - Pro­mot­ing Se­nior Wellness is pro­vided by The Hick­man, a Quak­er­af­fil­i­ated li­censed per­sonal care home in West Ch­ester. This col­umn was writ­ten by Jen Har­ris, Com­mu­nity Life and Out­reach Man­ager.

Hol­i­day lights, wood burn­ing stoves and tra­di­tions are all things that re­mind us that the hol­i­day sea­son is upon us. This is also the time of year when most fam­i­lies make a point to gather to­gether to cel­e­brate. But for fam­i­lies of some­one with de­men­tia, this time of year can be chal­leng­ing and stress­ful, even more so if you are trav­el­ing. But with a lit­tle ex­tra time and plan­ning your trip can be a joy­ous time for ev­ery­one in­volved. Plan­ning ahead is key. Wher­ever your trav­els may take you, cre­ate a flex­i­ble game plan be­fore em­bark­ing on your hol­i­day trip. Be­fore tak­ing a trip, it is best prac­tice to con­sult with your loved one’s physi­cian to make sure trav­el­ing is safe. Be sure to pack all med­i­ca­tions, emer­gency con­tacts and copies of le­gal doc­u­ments. You may want to con­sider leav­ing a day early to al­low the per­son to tran­si­tion and an ex­tra day when you re­turn. It is usu­ally best to stick to the per­son’s daily rou­tine, espe­cially when it comes to meal time and rest. This will cut down on anx­i­ety. Try not to pack all the fun into one day. And ex­plain the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of your loved one with fam­ily, friends, air­lines, ho­tel staff, etc. ahead of time. This will give them time to pre­pare.

What is the best time of day for your loved one? For most peo­ple with de­men­tia, morn­ings and mid-day tend to be the best time. If you are fly­ing, try to sched­ule a flight ear­lier in the day, as most de­lays oc­cur to later flights. When trav­el­ing by car, con­sider high traf­fic times and rest stops. Cre­ate a mu­sic playlist spe­cific to the per­son’s in­ter­est and rem­i­nisce about hol­i­days to help pass the time. Pack snacks and water, as de­hy­dra­tion is a risk for se­niors.

New en­vi­ron­ments may trig­ger wan­der­ing. Wak­ing up in the morn­ing in a new en­vi­ron­ment can be fright­en­ing and con­fus­ing. If stay­ing in a ho­tel, re­serve a room with two beds rather than ad­join­ing rooms and make sure the ho­tel is ac­ces­si­ble. Keep a well-lit, lug­gage free path to the bath­room and leave the light on all night. If stay­ing with fam­ily or friends, try to find a room that has a sim­i­lar po­si­tion in the home as your loved one is used to. You may want to con­sider tak­ing a photo of your loved one each day and en­rolling them in the Safe Re­turn and/or Medic Alert safety pro­gram…just in case.

And be pre­pared to cut the trip short if nec­es­sary. Even with a solid plan your loved one may not re­spond as well as you hoped for. If this is the case, you may want to con­sider a dif­fer­ent strat­egy next time.

Care­givers need a break too. If you are trav­el­ing some­where

that is not ac­com­mo­dat­ing to your loved one or you need time away, con­sider a respite stay in a lo­cal se­nior com­mu­nity. The de­mands of care­giv­ing can be ex­haust­ing espe­cially this time of year. Most se­nior com­mu­ni­ties will ac­com­mo­date a brief stay for your loved one. You may con­sider hir­ing a pri­vate duty com­pan­ion to take the trip as well. Don’t be shy about ac­cept­ing help.

A proac­tive ap­proach to trav­el­ing will al­low for a happy hol­i­day sea­son!

For more in­for­ma­tion on Trav­el­ing with De­men­tia visit Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion www.alz.org

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