August is peak time for flying: an opportunity to get away from it all, enjoy new scenery and create memories. But for a person with cognitive impairment, unfamiliar environments and routines of travel can be disorienting, which can make flying challenging.
Still, with thoughtful preparation and patience, it’s possible to have a positive journey.
Here are some tips:
Get Medical Clearance
Before making travel plans, consult with your loved one’s physician for advice as to whether air travel is a suitable option considering his or her current health status.
Simplicity is Key
If possible, choose direct flights. Avoiding layovers not only reduces potential stressors but also minimizes the challenge of navigating busy terminals.
Time it Right
Travel during the part of the day when your loved one is most alert and at their best. For many with dementia, mornings tend to be a good time.
Touches of Home
Bring along familiar and comforting items. This could be a favorite blanket, a photo album, or even a comforting scent. Familiarity can be a beacon in unfamiliar terrains.
Equip your loved one with an easily visible ID with essential information including their name, your contact information, and a note about their condition. For those keen on tech, GPS devices or specialized apps can offer an added layer of security.
Navigating the Airport
Airports can be challenging! Take advantage of airport assistance or fast-track services to make transitions smoother and more manageable.
Try to stick to routines, such as mealtimes and medication schedules. Familiar routines can offer a sense of normalcy in unfamiliar situations.
Stay Calm and Reassure
Airports and airplanes can be overwhelming, but your composure can set the tone for your loved one. Offer gentle reassurances, reminding them of the reason for your trip and upcoming steps.
Carry medications in their original bottles, and make sure you have more than enough for the duration of your trip. In addition to medication, bring a detailed list of your loved one’s medical history, medications, dosages, and emergency contacts.
The More, the Merrier
If you can, travel with another family member, caregiver, or trusted individual. An extra pair of hands and eyes can be invaluable.
Engage and Distract
Pack headphones, familiar music, or activities they enjoy. This can be a useful distraction during the more challenging phases of the journey.
Traveling with a loved one with dementia demands patience, planning, and flexibility. While the journey may present challenges, it’s also an opportunity to share precious moments and create memories together. With the right preparation, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for both of you.