This is the time of year for family gatherings and holiday celebrations. Perhaps your travel plans include a trip with someone who has had a decline in cognition that will require extra vigilance and preparation.
Below are 7 tips to ensure a safe and, hopefully, easy journey:
- Bring familiar items. Think about what things bring calm and a smile. Maybe an iPod with a familiar playlist or a favorite snack. Make sure they are packed and easily available.
- Keep to the Routine. Try to keep usual routines for eating and sleeping in place before, during, and after your trip.
- Plan to take breaks. However you travel, whether it be driving, flying, bus or train, be sure to plan plenty of time for regular breaks for food, bathroom, and if appropriate, a short walk or stretch (this will be good for you as well).
- Ask the airlines, if you think you need additional assistance. Does your traveling companion require extra time to board the airplane or bus? Inquire of the airlines, bus, or train as to how they can assist with your travel with a cognitively impaired person, as they typically are supportive.
- Ask your local Alzheimer’s Association. Did you know that your local Alzheimer’s Association probably has “business cards” that you can hand out to service providers or other travelers that let them know your travel companion has dementia?
- Keep in mind anxiety or stress triggers. Be aware of what typically causes anxiety or stress and try and keep those circumstances to a minimum.
- If necessary, talk to family members in advance so they know what to expect. Keeping information about cognitive impairment from others who will be present will cause confusion and stress for everyone. Suggest they watch a Teepa Snow video or two (teepasnow.com).