With the holidays approaching, a road trip may be in your plans. It's always best to be well prepared when taking a road trip with a senior who has dementia. Making sure their needs are met while traveling is essential. We have provided 3 car travel tips that can help keep your family and your senior safe.
1. Plan For Rest Breaks
A senior who has dementia often needs to take a moment, sit down, and get their bearings. That's why you need to plan several rest stops throughout a drive of any real length. That includes bathroom breaks, but also stopping for food, and just getting out of the car and stretching. Keep a conversation going with your loved one, because if they're having a good day, you might only need to stop once or twice. If it isn't such a good day, though, you may need to stop more often.
2. Keep Your Time Expectations Realistic
We all know how to plan our trips based on realistic expectations. We look at the weather, we check the traffic, and add or subtract time based on the conditions. A senior with dementia is one more factor to consider. How bad is today? How long does it take them to get ready? You know your loved one, so take a moment to evaluate them, and see how the day is likely going to go.
3. Have A Safety Route In Mind
While your loved one might not be made out of glass, dementia is a difficult condition to live with. Which is why it's important to make sure there is always a safety route in mind, in case there's an emergency, or something happens. While it takes additional time and consideration to plan out, when you need it, you'll be glad you have it.
4. Be Prepared
Be prepared for the car ride and have everything you need on hand. For example, have several plans of action for activities. Try something like looking for different colored objects along the trip and naming them as you see them. Seniors with dementia may have short attention spans and this will keep the mind active.
Additionally, bring changes of clothes and toiletry items such as wipes, especially for senior who suffer incontinence or become easily nauseated when traveling.
5. Don't Force Conversation
If your senior is content to sit quietly and take in the scenery, don't force conversation or activities. He may be enjoying the trip in his own quiet way. Just go with it. Remember, the less confrontation, the better.
When you are talking with your senior, speak slowly and in a calming voice to reassure. Remind the senior frequently of the reason for the trip if he forgets.
6. Keep Things as Familiar as Possible
You can do this by picking a destination that your loved one may have spent time before the onset of dementia. You can also choose a destination that will allow you to stick closely to your daily routine.
7. Be Alert to Wandering
No doubt, you'll make sure Mom or Dad sticks closely by your side. However, there's nothing wrong with taking extra precautions. Consider getting them an ID bracelet in case you get separated.
A road trip with a senior with dementia can be challenging but definitely not impossible. At Caring Senior Service we are always ready to help seniors and their families by providing professional advice and services. As you consider ways to give support to your aging parents or relatives, consider including us in your plans. Contact our care team today!