With summer under way, let’s talk about vacationing and traveling with individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease. I know that many caregivers have concerns about this and are often unsure about what to do. With a bit of planning, you can both enjoy some time away from home.
- Return to a well-loved place. Bring along a photo collage or album and reminisce about past trips and shared good times.
- Plan a vacation that promotes feelings of usefulness, belonging and enjoyment. Be sure there will be ample ways for your loved one to be involved and engaged such as beach walks, card games, birding, preparing dinner, attending a local ballgame, collecting shells or visiting a museum.
- Be sure to consider current health, wellness and safety issues related to your loved one’s disease. Adjust your expectations and plans about the length of trip, daily activities, accommodations and spending time with many different people. Too much moving around, interacting and go, go, going may cause increased confusion and anxiety.
- To the best of your ability, try to follow the regular daily schedule at home. For example, eat meals at the same time, go on your daily walk in the same part of the day and be aware of overstimulation and fatigue.
- Be realistic in your expectations. The month-long vacation you have always hoped to take together may just be too taxing right now. Talk together about what you would like to do and what you can handle and focus on that!
- Ask family and friends to join you and assist with some of the caregiving. They’ll gain the treasured time they spend with their loved one and you’ll have some valuable time on your own.
Vacations can be organized and planned to be benefit both the caregiver and the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers may also use the season to take some time for themselves, to relax and recharge. There are many different ways to travel on your own while leaving your loved one in good hands. Ask for help from family members or consider exploring respite care options.