planning meticulously for a trip with a senior is the key to success.
“It made me feel like Napoleon plotting to win one of his campaigns,” Payne says.
She arranged for someone to care for her mother’s cat while she was away, as well as someone to care for her own cats. She made sure she had an ample supply of her mother’s medications. She carefully considered how and when to fly. Should they make a stop or fly straight through? What was the best time to arrive so her mother could adjust to the three hour time difference?
Anthony Cirillo, president of the Aging Experience, suggests using this checklist to plan a vacation that both you and your parent will enjoy.
- Get medical clearance: Start with your parent’s physician to determine if they are capable of handling a trip and use your best judgment.
- Pack medicine and paperwork: Take all pertinent medical information with you including a list of medications, advance directives and medical records.
- Plan out flying: Allow for longer connection times and arrange for cart transportation inside the airport.
- Make driving comfortable: Consider a rental vehicle with more space and accessible features.
- Ensure safety abroad: If you are leaving the country consider the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan, a free service from the U.S. Department of State that allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
2. Minimize changes to normal routines
Focus on preserving your loved one’s routine as best as possible, particularly their eating and sleeping schedules, because small or unfamiliar changes can often feel overwhelming and stressful, particularly to someone living with dementia.
“For those taking a trip with someone with Alzheimer’s, the normal stresses of traveling can be even more challenging,” says Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA). “Following a few simple, important steps can help caregivers make the trip as safe, pleasant and comfortable as possible for their loved one.”
If they have certain meal and bed times, stick as closely as possible to them. For Payne, that also meant making sure her mother could watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! every night, just like she did at home.