Christmas travel adds additional responsibilities for caregivers, especially with loved ones experiencing dementia. It is a challenging ordeal to coordinate travel during peak season and the journey can be difficult for loved ones.
December often entails a huge juggle between work, family and Christmas planning. Caregivers can implement a few simple strategies to eliminate additional pressures and focus on enjoying family time.
Start planning far in advance and keep your plan simple. It is best to book direct flights to avoid stop overs, which will make the journey less stressful by eliminating transit between terminals.
Afternoon flights are also optimal to allow time to stop and rest along the way. It avoids early morning wake up times, peak hour traffic and lends enough travel time before check-in and boarding. Be mindful of your loved one’s daily routine and plan accordingly.
When booking, it may also be helpful to notify airline staff of any special requirements, such as wheelchairs. Flight staff will be more than happy to fill requests for your loved one.
Find Somewhere Quiet
Quiet and peaceful accommodation is best. Travel can be exhausting and disorienting for people with dementia. Where possible, book a hotel to check in to immediately after you arrive so the whole family can rest. Alternatively, staying with family or friends could be a good opportunity to have additional room for loved ones to relax.
What to Pack?
Medic alert bracelets can save you lots of time and stress if your loved one gets lost. You could also write a card with their name, medical information, your contact details and accommodation address in case of emergency.
Long haul flights or road trips require everything important to be on hand. Double check you have packed passports, medication, prescriptions, food and activities, such as puzzles and books will help pass the time and avoid scrambling to find items in transit or at the destination.
Maintain Routine/Daily Schedule
Keep a consistent routine to ensure the travel process runs smoothly. Adhere as much as possible to your loved ones routine at home, including meal and bed times. Also pack all their everyday essentials – pyjamas, toothbrush, bedside book, pillow or anything comforting.
Prioritise Family Bonding
Make sure everyone feels involved and plan family time prior. Give your loved one a say in the decision-making process and plan activities well in advance.
Remind them of what you will do on the trip by discussing it frequently, but not too much, in the lead up to leaving. You can even print out your plans so they can see everything and know what to expect before leaving.
Following these simple steps will create a memorable Christmas holiday with the whole family.
Would you like to learn about how we can care for your loved one at Columbia Aged Care? Get in touch today.