On holiday with your husband, your wife, your mother or your father. Sounds nice and fun. Go to a nearby town, go camping in the forest, or travel by plane to Portugal. All these destinations are nice, but when your loved one is suffering from dementia, it can be way more difficult than usually. In this article we give you information and tips on how to prepare for your journey, what to do on your destination, and what you can do after travelling to make it as easy as possible for you and your loved one.
Involve your loved one in the preparations
When you plan the journey together with your loved one, you can both state your wishes and it becomes clear what the possibilities are. However, it is up to you to estimate what your loved one can handle and what he/ she likes. Does a new environment confuse him/her? Then try to choose a destination that is reasonably known, for example because of an earlier trip to that place. Is that not possible? Involve him/ her in the preparations and show, for example, photos of the destination. In this way he/ she can get used to the environment.
Collect as much information as possible
You can often find a lot of information about your destination through the use of the internet, but if this is not enough, it might be possible to book your holiday with a travel company. They often know a little bit more about the accommodations and the surroundings of these accommodations. For example, do they speak Dutch? How do they deal with any problems? Are there sights in the area? How busy is it?The answer to this last question is important for you. Traveling in low season often means that it is less crowded. This makes it more quiet for you and your loved one and the staff often has more time for you.It is also very important to plan your trip well. This brings peace and gives you guidance.
Adjust your plans to the circumstances
If you go abroad, the travel time is longer and the environment is often more unknown than when you stay in your home country. It may be useful to rent an apartment instead of a hotel. This is because you can often dress up an apartment with familiar things such as a pillow or photos. If you do choose a hotel, make sure there are no glass doors and walls in your room. This is often experienced as poorly visible by people with dementia. If necessary, also ask for a possibility to lock the door so that your loved one cannot go astray at night. Take enough restA holiday in a new environment often requires a lot of energy from your loved one with dementia. He/ she will need time to acclimatize, because he/ she can no longer process the impressions as quickly as the could before. Therefore, make sure your program is not too full and take enough rest. Are you traveling by car? Then take regular breaks and limit the distances you cover. Don’t forget yourself, you also need your peace and relaxation.
Going on holiday together
It may be possible to not only go on holiday with your loved one, but to take several loved ones with you. They can then occasionally take over the care of your loved one with dementia. Make good agreements on this, so that everyone knows where he/ she stands.
Holidays by plane
Flying is not necessarily bad for people with dementia, but it is wise to take some precautions.Try to avoid long flights and opt for a direct flight to your destination. Arrive on time at the airport. Make sure that your neighbor has sufficient distraction by, for example puzzle books or photos. Keep important documents of your neighbor in your own hand luggage. Does your neighbor suffer from the crowds at the airport? Take headphones and sunglasses with you, this reduces the incentives from the environment.
To make it extra comfortable for yourself and your loved one during the trip, once you have arrived at your destination and after the trip, we have a few more tips here;
- Look at the photos of the destination together in advance, take many photos during the trip and view them regularly after the trip. In this way the holiday becomes more of a shared experience and the memories remain longer.
- Try to keep everything familiar during the journey. Provides structure by, for example, keeping meal times the same, or bring a pillow or photo frame from home.
- Provide your neighbor with an ID-certificate and the address details of the residence location. Put it in his/ her handbag or jacket pocket or hang a chain around their neck.
- Take out cancellation insurance. In this way you can always respond to the state of mind of your loved one.
The final tip we want to give you is to just enjoy the time together with your loved one. Enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the fact that you are still able to do this together. In this way the memory will become stronger and more precious.