1. Carry important documents and medications with you.
These documents should include emergency contact information, physician information, a list of current medications and dosages, and any food allergies. Also have your travel itinerary and insurance information readily available.
2. Be sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet.
This is especially important for seniors who may wander. If you do not have an ID bracelet for them, put their name on their clothing and be sure they have your number and a list of medical conditions in their wallet.
3. Keep surroundings as familiar as possible.
People with Alzheimer’s often have difficulty in new environments so try to bring familiar things from home on your trip (i.e., blankets, pillows, pajamas). Try to keep their routine the same to avoid confusion.
4. Limit connections and layovers.
Try to take a direct flight to your destination to avoid a tight connection, a missed flight, and further distress. Many airlines will allow you to pre-board which will give your loved one more time to adjust to their new surroundings.
5. Keep travel time to less than four hours.
If your flight or drive is longer than four hours be sure to have at least two caregivers present. Bring photos and toys to keep your loved one busy during the travel time.
6. Consider staying in a hotel rather than with relatives.
A hotel can give your loved one a calm place to go when the trip becomes hectic. They may also be able to stick to their routine better in a hotel. In addition, some family members may not be familiar with Alzheimer’s and might not know what to expect. Be sure to make the hotel staff aware of any special needs in advance.
7. Allow extra time.
Whether making a flight or driving in a car keep in mind that your loved one may need extra time to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Be prepared to be patient with them and allow plenty of time to make travel less stressful.
8. Set realistic expectations.
People with Alzheimer’s need consistency so it is often easier to travel with someone in the earlier stages of the disease. If your loved one exhibits delusional, paranoid behavior, physical or verbal aggression, has a high risk of falling, or has unstable medical conditions, it may be a better idea to find summer fun locally.
Additional caregiver tips are available at http://www.alz.org/care/overview.asp