If you're traveling on vacation with a parent with dementia, it's important that you take a few extra steps to prepare for his or her comfort and safety. Preparing for problems ahead of time is also a good way to take some of the stress off of yourself so that you're able to relax as well. Follow these tips:
1.) Keep all necessary paperwork handy.
You need to make sure that your parent's physician information, pharmacy, list of current medications, list of allergies, health insurance cards, and emergency contacts (other than yourself) are all together when you travel. It's best to make a copy for your car and your pocketbook or backpack. That way, you have a backup copy if necessary. You should also take along a copy of his or her living will and guardianship papers as well.
2.) Make sure that your parent is wearing identification.
Consider having an identification bracelet made for your parent with his or her name, your cell phone number, and the notice that he or she is a dementia patient on it. A badge or necklace is more easily removed than a bracelet with a clasp.
3.) Look for a dementia-friendly place to stay.
You may find it easier to avoid staying with relatives or friends. There are hotels that are very dementia-friendly, and you can keep to your parent's routines more easily than you might be able to in someone else's home. When picking a place to stay, look for specific features:
- A two-bed room. You want to be able to stay with your parent, especially at night when dementia tends to be worse.
- Disability-friendly access. Look for a place with temperature-controlled faucets, grab bars near the toilet and in the shower, a step-in shower, and rooms that have enough space for your parent to walk back and forth if he or she feels agitated. A room with a small fridge and a coffee pot can make it easier to eat breakfast in the room so that your parent doesn't have to go out for each meal.
- A concierge. A concierge can help make your hotel stay easier because he or she can act as an ambassador of the hotel. He or she can let the staff know that your parent has dementia and ask staff to be on the lookout in case your parent wanders out of the room when you're in the bathroom or asleep. He or she can also help if you need a meal delivered to the room or medications picked up from a pharmacy.
4.) Remember the small details.
Consider taking along a plastic child-proof doorknob cover, especially if you use these at home to prevent your parent from wandering outside. You may want to take an extra one for the bathroom door as well. If you typically keep a nightlight on at home, make sure that you remember to pack the nightlight for the hotel room as well. If you're used to keeping his or her medication in a locked cupboard, take along a lockable bag or box for medications during the trip.
Make sure to also take a few of your parent's favorite items with you. If he or she has a favorite pillow, coffee cup, or blanket, those small comfort items can help ease his or her sense of being in an unfamiliar area.
Despite the problems that come with dementia, traveling with your parent doesn't have to be stressful—just remember to plan ahead of time and take some simple precautions, so that you and your parent can both relax and enjoy the vacation. Contact a business, such as The Baker House 1650, for more information.