I used to facilitate Alzheimer Caregiver Support Groups and Parkinson’s Caregivers Support Groups. It always surprised me when caregivers were planning little driving trips with their loved one or even going some distance by airplane. You certainly can still travel when someone has limitations, but you do need to spend some time planning. Recently, I found this information on a caregiver.com website. Here are some of the more salient bits of information and notes from me inside parenthesees:
“Advise hotels, airlines, tour operators, or people you are visiting that you are traveling with someone with memory impairment. Be specific about your safety concerns and special needs. If you are staying in a private home, guest home, or bed and breakfast, do not surprise your overnight host with your loved one's condition. Explain it fully, well in advance. Do not think they won't notice. Don't be upset if they feel they cannot handle the visit—especially if there are children in the home.
- Never travel without a full set of reservations……(if flying, be sure to use TSA and notify them in advance!!)
- Always provide family members with an itinerary and call home regularly.
- Make a list of the daily routine and special items you need to take with you. (Get a zip envelope easy to carry for these papers)
- Always have the person with memory loss identified, preferably with a bracelet your loved one cannot misplace. (Check with the Alzheimer’s Association for these)
- Use good judgment when telling your loved one about the trip. Discussing it too far in advance may produce anxiety and agitation.
(Be cautious with this tip. A loved one can obsess about travel if you talk about it too soon)
- Be flexible. Have a contingency plan that allows you to leave early if your loved one becomes ill, agitated, or wants to go home.
- Keep your sense of humor and laugh at all the things that happen. They will be part of a wonderful memory of your travels together.
- If the trip is prolonged, develop a list of medical professionals and Alzheimer's Association chapters along your route.
- Never leave your loved one alone or ask strangers to watch him/her. A person who does not know your loved one or the disease will not know how to react in a difficult situation.
- Avoid traveling at peak travel seasons such as Thanksgiving and Christmas
- Take medications with you to manage stomach upset, diarrhea, or other temporary problems caused by changes in food and water. (Be aware of incontinence issues too. Diapers may be necessary)
- Get help and find out who can help in countries where you do not speak the language. (Plan ahead!!)
- Search the internet or check the Yellow Pages to see if there is a travel agent in your area specializing in planning trips for people with disabilities. If so, use the specialized service. (Again, the Alzheimer’s Association and/or Parkinson’s groups may help)
- Enjoy each day and the little pleasures each day can bring………take care…….bon voyage…..Regina