My niece is getting married in another state and I would like to take my mother, her grandmother, to the ceremony. What are some tips and strategies in traveling with someone who has Alzheimer’s?
Though we all enjoy a change of scenery and a break from our schedules, it is often not the case for individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Travel for these individuals means interrupted routines, new environments and new people, which can be confusing, overstimulating and cause great anxiety and fear.
You need to determine if your mother is really able to travel.
Individuals in early stages of the disease can usually manage trips; however, as the disease progresses, travel becomes very challenging. Does your mother require assistance with bathing, dressing and toileting? Does she show signs of consistent disorientation, have problems managing continence, exhibit angry or wandering behaviors, or have you witnessed her to be withdrawn or anxious in noisy or crowded settings? If you have, it might be very problematic to take her on a long trip.
If you feel she can make the trip, make preparations early. Try to keep her regular routine as much as you reasonably can. If she is cognitive enough to understand that her granddaughter is getting married, allow her to be involved in the travel planning.
You can discuss plans to attend the ceremony, what family members are attending and assist her in selecting her attire and a gift for the couple.
If you are traveling by car, allow enough time for frequent stops and resist trying to get to your destination in just one day.
Pack an “activity bag” for your mom with things she enjoys, such as photos of the family you will see at the wedding, favorite music, a pillow, blanket and snacks.
If flying, notify the airline. They can make the journey easier by arranging for early boarding, seats near restrooms and transportation upon arrival. Try to have another person travel with you to assist.
Make sure your mother carries identification and that she has your contact information on her. Also, carry her medical history with you, including a current medication list, physician’s telephone numbers and a list of allergies.
Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, at (225) 334-7494, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.