Judson Haims: Traveling with Alzheimer’s or dementia
Special to The Aspen Times
For about 30 years, the Alzheimer’s Association has promoted the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Currently, there are over 600 communities in the U.S. that participate in raising funds to support research and promote awareness. The Eagle County Walk is Saturday.
The holidays will soon be here. Should COVID-19 not derail our plans, many families may be packing everyone in the car or taking a flight to another part of the country. While this should be an exciting and fun time for the family, sometimes parts of it can cause anxiety.
Traveling is not always easy, but it can be especially hard when a member of your family is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Changes in routine and long road trips may be too much for a loved one with dementia to handle.
The following guide, which includes tips from the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Services and the Alzheimer’s Association, will hopefully be educational and help take some of the stress out of traveling for you and your family.
— Make sure you have a comfortable change of clothes, plenty of water, as well as any necessary food and/or medications.
— Bring a complete list of contact numbers. These should include numbers for emergency contacts, your loved one’s doctor, the emergency services in the areas you are traveling through and/or to, and contact numbers for your hotel or accommodations.
— Consider giving your loved one some form of ID they can wear or carry on them. You might also consider enrolling in wearable locator programs such as the MedicAlert or Alzheimer’s Association’s Safe Return program.
– Create an itinerary for your trip.
– Plan for delays and give yourself plenty of extra time. Call ahead to your destination to see if they can accommodate early arrivals. This will reduce the chance of stressful situations.
– Plan for familiar routes and destinations whenever possible.
– Plan to limit or entirely avoid stressful situations such as short connection times.
— Avoid expressions of irritation or anger as much as possible. Stress can be contagious, especially in confined environments like a car or airplane.
— Try to travel with more than one caregiver if possible so that it is easier to care for and keep an eye on your loved one.
— Avoid traveling with those who will irritate or provoke stress in your loved one.
— If your loved one becomes agitated while you are driving, pull over. It is unsafe and will be counterproductive to try to calm them while driving.
— If staying at a hotel, motel or resort, inform the management and any staff you will regularly deal with of your loved one’s situation.
— If staying with family or friends, make sure they are aware in advance of your loved one’s needs. Not everyone knows the best way to handle those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so it is wise to speak with people individually and cover your loved one’s specific needs and tendencies.
Remember, when traveling with a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, it always best to be over prepared than under prepared. Plan thoroughly, be prepared for potential emergencies, and do everything you can to reduce or eliminate stress and discomfort. And if you have an elderly care provider whom you can rely on for advice or help with preparation, do not hesitate to ask for their assistance.
If you are interested in doing your part to find a cure, please come join Visiting Angels for The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday as we help raise funds for Alzheimer’s research and education. It will hopefully be a beautiful weekend, so come walk and support the cause.
If you would like to help out with the set up for the event, please reach out right away to Catie Davis at 303-813-1669 ext. 9613 or email her at email@example.com. Come join the Walk and support the cause — it’s going to be a fun time.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or 970-328-5526.
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