Hebrew SeniorLife created the word ReAge to reflect the breadth and depth of services we offer: providing world-class health care; building innovative senior communities; funding groundbreaking research; and teaching future generations of geriatricians.

ReAge, a combination of “redefine” and “aging,” means to question everything about the aging process. Through ReAging, we are challenging conventions in order to create and implement new standard-of-care approaches that will positively impact the lives of older adults.

View ReAge Videos

Traveling with Dementia

Taking a loved one with dementia on vacation

Tara Fleming Caruso, MA, LMHC's picture
Traveling with Dementia
Traveling with Dementia

Summers in Massachusetts are wonderful. After months of ice and snow, the change in seasons finally allows us to enjoy long-awaited rituals. For many people, one of these is a summer vacation.

When you are caring for someone with dementia, the thought of a vacation may be wonderful, but the actual reality of the experience can be stressful and complicated. Caregiving is a 24/7 job wherever you are.  Dementia doesn’t go away like some of the other worries we leave at home while on vacation. In fact, the change in routine can make symptoms even worse. 

If you decide that travelling is important and that it brings value to you and your care partner’s life, the following suggestions may help make the process easier and safer for both of you:

  1. Travel with more information than you think you need.  Bring copies of medication lists, doctor’s names/numbers, a photo of your loved one, copies of medical proxies/emergency contacts.
  2. Register your care partner in the Alzheimer Association’s Safe Return program, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer's or a related dementia.
  3. Plan everything in advance. This includes meals, lodging, transportation and activities. It is better to know in advance what some of your challenges may be than to be blindsided in the moment. 
  4. Maintain your current routine and structure as much as possible while you are away.
  5. Schedule a dress rehearsal. Go for a day trip that includes traveling, activities and meals.  This will give you an opportunity to practice some of the challenges you may face on your actual trip.
  6. Bring along another family member and/or a professional caregiver.
  7. Expect the unexpected.  Even with all of the planning you will do, something will happen that you could not have anticipated.  1) Accept this in advance and 2) try to keep a sense of humor, it is what it is.

If the prospect of all the planning feels overwhelming, you may decide that travelling with your care partner is not a viable option. Additionally, you as a full-time caregiver may need a break. An occasional vacation from caregiving is a crucial part of maintaining the ability to provide care over the long term. It is something caregivers do for themselves that positively impacts their care partner, both in the short and long-run.

In these cases, look for memory care communities that offer something called “Respite Care.” These are temporary assisted living stays – typically ranging between several days and several weeks.  The benefit to you is peace of mind as well as the chance to recharge.  Your care partner enjoys their own vacation in a community designed specifically to support persons with dementia; a win-win for both of you.

 

Topic: 

Tags: 

Admissions Counselor and Marketing Manager for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles

A licensed mental health counselor, Tara Fleming-Caruso has been helping elders and families explore assisted living and other senior care options for almost 20 years. As the admissions Counselor and Marketing Manager for Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles, Tara understands the myriad of concerns seniors and their adult children have about the aging process and navigating transitions. With a Masters in Expressive Arts Therapies, Tara’s expertise spans dementia care, program development, family mediation and caregiver support.

Follow us:

        

Comments (2)

My mother is 80 years old and

My mother is 80 years old and has dementia. She hates doctors, hospitals and anything medical. She had stopped taking her high blood pressure medication, she is seeing people, she is angry at my dad and makes up stories about him. My dad is worried that she will hurt him when he is in bed because she is up all hours of the night. My dad finally got her into her doctor for a flu shot and talked to her doctor about what is going on and the doctor told him to call the customer service number on the back of his health insurance card!! We have no place to go. She will not go willingly. Does she have to hurt my dad for someone to see her? Everywhere I have called they say it has to be voluntary. We are at the end of our rope on what to do?????
Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media Team's picture

Hi Linda,

Hi Linda, Thank you for leaving a comment on the blog. I'm so sorry to hear of the emotional pain your family has been going through lately. Unfortunately, due to HIIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations, we are unable to provide specific medical advice. In your email inbox you will find our attached ebook, "You and Your Aging Parents" which may prove helpful, as well as links to our explanation of a geriatric specialist, which may be a good next course of action for your mother's care. All the best, Erica Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media

Did you like this post? Tell us your story!