OPINION: How to travel with a person with dementia

A MAJORITY of people enjoy going on a holiday. If you are a carer for a person with dementia and decide to take that person on a holiday it may be successful and enjoyable or it may not.

Many carers successfully travel within Australia or even overseas with the person with dementia.

The holiday may be for reminiscences, family gatherings, sightseeing or just temporary relocation to a different care situation.

Travelling with a person with dementia can present many hazards and challenges.

It is important to travel in the early stages of the disease, as in the future the person may become too disorientated, agitated or distressed to travel.

Although people with dementia generally are happier in well ordered, familiar and stable situations, travel can be successful given the correct conditions and planning.

Warning signs against travel:

•• Consistent disorientation, agitation in familiar settings.

•• Wanting to go home when away from home on short outings.

•• Delusional, paranoid or aggressive, embarrassing behaviour.

•• Continence management problems.

•• Upset, anxious, withdrawn in crowded, noisy or confined settings.

•• Agitated, or wandering behaviour.

If none of the above signs are present, it may be a good idea to "trial" the person by going for a short trip of perhaps a few days duration, using the mode of transport that is planned for the longer holiday, This will help establish the persons travel capacity. It will provide a good idea of whether to pursue the original plan or not.

If any of the above is present and travel is unavoidable, it would be advisable to consult your doctor to discover if medication may be useful to settle the person.

Of course, providing a familiar and reassuring companion is the first consideration. Some tips to assist in the planning of a trip. (These apply mainly to travel by car).

•• As the carer, be prepared to do everything for two people. This can be taxing, so attempt to obtain plenty of rest before departure.

•• Have the person with dementia wear a bracelet at all times that is registered with the Police, these can be obtained from Alzheimer's Australia Queensland for free. Ensure the following information is in their wallet - name, address and phone number of your holiday location as well as placing the term "dementia" near their name. Mark all clothing with their name.

•• Ensure you know the situation of Disabled Toilets in each town you pass through - these can be obtained from RACQ maps, Local Councils, Local Council Maps, Queensland Health Department, Tourist Information Centres and Disability Services.

•• Take a minimum of clothing but do remember to have some changes of clothing handy for the day's travel.

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