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Successful Holiday Travels & Visits with a Loved One with Dementia

Posted on: 2014 11 17

from the Alzheimer's Reading Room  Good Times Can Roll On: Successful Holiday Travels & Visits Keeping your loved one involved and in touch with friends and family during special celebrations and holidays is important. Here are some tips to help you create moments of success while minimizing stress and tension. It’s a hectic time of the year

  • Caregivers and partners often experience physical & emotional exhaustion, especially during holidays
  • Remember the rest of the family and if they offer to help, let them. They might want to help but not know what to do, so clue them in
  • You do not have to add stress or miss the enjoyment of the season, but it might require that you change your expectations or celebrate in a different way

Caring for a person with memory loss is time consuming and often stressful.  It’s okay not to do everything yourself or everything you have always done in the past.  Balance socialization with solitude. Holiday gatherings

  • Holidays can be meaningful, enriching times for both the person with memory loss and their family
  • Encourage visits even if it is uncomfortable or difficult for visitors
  • Include the person with memory loss in the planning of who to invite and what to eat
  • Prepare your guests for changes in appearance, memory, behavior and stressors
  • Maintaining (or adapting) old family rituals and traditions helps all family members feel a sense of belonging & family identity
  • Set your own limits and go with the flow. Some of the best times are not planned, but just happen

Keep activities and sleep patterns as regular as you can.  Be prepared to provide a distraction, perhaps a family photo album, if the person begins to become confused, agitated, anxious or sad. Situations to avoid because they confuse or frustrate many people with memory loss

  • Avoid crowds of people who expect the person to remember them
  • Avoid noisy, loud conversations or loud music
  • Avoid strange or different surroundings
  • Avoid changes in light intensity – too bright or too dark
  • Avoid over-indulgence in rich or special food or drink (especially alcohol)

Plan visits at home where it is safe, familiar and comfortable for the person with memory loss.  Try to plan visits earlier in the day when the person is less fatigued.  Keep it simple. Dining Out

  • Avoid noisy restaurants or buffets with too many choices
  • Sit near the restroom
  • Dine with a few people instead of a large group

Plan ahead: make reservations and try to see the menu to make choices in advance Traveling with a person with dementia

  • Consider the person’s abilities and make appropriate adaptations
  • Make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience (not too much on the agenda-simplify the itinerary)
  • Think about your expectations because this will be a “working” event
  • If flying, request a bulkhead row (First row)
  • Visit the airport restroom before takeoff—use “family restrooms” if unable to leave your person alone
  • If traveling by bus for long distances, find out if they make routine bathroom and refreshment stops as it can become stressful sitting for long periods
  • Have an iPod loaded with their favorite tunes
  • Books, magazines, and puzzles may help

Stay with familiar modes of travel; if the person has never been on a plane, don’t start now. Visiting with a person with memory loss

  • Enjoy the company of others or each other
  • Recognize that the purpose of visit is purely social and relationship building
  • Create special moments to share like taking photos, baking cookies, or singing
  • Avoid negative words and accept the mindset of the person you are visiting is – they may not talk or even know you. You can still have a great visit if you step into their reality
  • Children are ok to visit; let them know as much as they can understand – you will be surprised how well they interact and behave
  • Consider wearing name tags, visit early and for a short time

Check to see in advance what you can bring in the way of food or gifts. If bringing a gift – make it person appropriate and uncomplicated to open. Visiting: Engaging the person

  • Have a scrap book available – complete with names and short phrases describing the picture and event
  • Consider reading stories, reading the newspaper or magazines
  • Prayer, bible reading, familiar spiritual routines and rituals are important
  • Go to lunch or bring in a meal
  • Sit outside or on the porch
  • Bring in objects of past interests
  • Listen to music
  • Go for walks
  • Bring in greeting cards to look at and read
  • Sing

It may seem difficult to visit with a person with dementia due to the lack of “words” or conversation.  Reading & photos might help you to engage the person and have a successful & meaningful visit. Source and Thank you:  Brookdale (Senior Living Solutions)

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