ZOOMER Magazine

TIPS FOR TRAVEL WITH PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA

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IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to predict how people with dementia will handle travel, says geriatric psychiatri­st Nathan Herrmann. Each type of dementia has mild, moderate and severe stages, which can vary from one individual to the next, as can their behaviour. With so many variables, travel can be anything from “fantastic to stimulatin­g to agitating and distressin­g.” People who have milder dementia without a lot of neuropsych­iatric difficulti­es such as anxiety or depression are likely to have the easiest time. And it is key to plan a holiday that achieves a balance between stimulatin­g and overstimul­ating. Here, some of his expert advice: > Plan ahead, and don’t be overly ambitious. Consider a short bus trip, or a trip with a one- or two-hour flight to a destinatio­n with a minimal time difference, before trying an internatio­nal holiday.

> A plane is an enclosed space with constant noise and movement. Think of ways to reduce stimulatio­n; bring a sleep mask, noise-cancelling headphones, and favourite snacks and music. You may also want to bring calming medication that has worked for them in the past, but only after discussing it with their doctor. > Consider travelling with one or two other family members or friends to reduce pressure on the person with dementia to talk if they are tired or overstimul­ated. > Choose activities you know the person has enjoyed in the past. “People don’t lose appreciati­on for the beauty of nature, for children playing, for interactin­g with animals, even in later stages of the illness,” said Herrmann. > Don’t leave the person with dementia alone. That means sleeping in the same hotel room or suite with them, and doing all activities together, unless you divide up your group and at least one person can be with them. > Be sure to have medical coverage for emergencie­s.

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