Many people enjoy travel for recreation, relaxation or a new experience. Those who enjoy traveling, include caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD). Travel can pose special problems for person with dementia. Hence it can be a challenge for the PWD and the caregiver.
Doubts such as can we take a holiday with our loved one PWD? Perhaps a holiday will help him? Can we go overseas-long distance?
There are many reasons to travel:-
- Visit home town
- Visit children
- Medical tourism
- Leisure and more other reasons
Here are some tips that i have learnt:-
We must have careful well-informed planning
- Previous trips, did it went well?
- Have a practice journey by car eg. 4-5 hours and stay away
- Plan journey carefully
- Ensure PWD that they know where to go
- is it any toilet nearby?
You must consider
- PWD’s limitation & strength?
- Whether person can manage the trip
- More advanced dementia-more difficult travel will be
- If relatively independent & care for themselves is better
- BPSD- difficult to travel
- Assistance with ADL-difficult to travel
- Where are you going?
- To determine most efficient method of travel
- How long is the trip?
- Prolonged travel with many destination or tours can be disruptive
- Where will you be staying
- If travel with relatives or friends do they understand dementia?
- If you are staying at hotel – you must know the exists and amenities.
- What will you doing when you get there?
- What resources such as to bring special things. For example, wheelchair, can check variety of quality travel wheelchairs at https://ielder.asia/collections/travel-transit-lightweight-wheelchair
- What can be done in case of emergency
- Buy insurance in advance
- Do you know the medical services in the travel place?
- Use wheelchairs at airports
- Take medication on board
- Turn down hearing aids during take off noise
- Sit near toilet if risk of incontinence or use diapers
- Take adequate travel insurance include medical return
It is not advise to travel went badly in these situations
- Dementia was unrecognised or undiagnosed
- Untreated BPSD
- No travel advice give
- Long haul by themselves
Source: Perkins and Hancock
Care giver related issues
- Can you cope with it or not?
- If you feel embarrassed when patient does something inappropriate
- If care giver cannot adapt with new environments, then better don’t go.
- If care giver does not do a good planning, good discussion
- Think the trip to familiar places will be just like it used to be
Avoid overnight travel
- For incontinence loved one is willing to wear diapers, then it is fine to travel overnight
- If patient can’t recognise caregiver
- Not listen to caregiver
- Travel companions
- General health advice-medication and how to use it
- Itinerary suggestion
- Reduce stimulation – go for more quite place
- Don’t leave it too late/do you really want to go?
- carry medical information/insurance
- Try not to take sleeping pills
- Do you preparation well
- Plan for jet lag – 3 hours difference max is better. If have long haul, then find airline with stopovers, max travel is about 3-4 hours flight time
- Travel during daylight is better
- Plan for sleep at destination, stopovers, maybe take hypnotic.
- Inform airline
- Ask for help include wheelchair to avoid queues
- Good to take business class
Information should bring along
- Carry ID
- Doctor’s letter and clinical information
- How to contact usual doctor via email, may be can bring pain killer.
- Education for caregiver
- Avoid dehydration
- No alcohol
- Have enough food
Decision to go?
- Is it worth it? For whose benefit is travel? Should PWD stay behind? You must be realistic when the PWD fits to go for travel.
- Do it now/don’t travel with advanced dementia
- Avoid if BPSD/mentally unstable
- Avoid if physical unwell
- Caregivers often exhausted by journey and PWD has forgotten most of it.
- Request a rental car the same colour as the car at home