Caregiver Tips for Traveling

Jory Cross by Jory Cross | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 05/15/2017

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As a caregiver, traveling with your loved one can present a challenge – for example, if he or she has Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to all the detailed planning for medications, therapies, and any other special care your loved one needs once you arrive at your destination, preparing for actual s travel itself can seem overwhelming.

The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation lists some travel tips for caregivers who need to accompany loved ones. Some of these travel tips may apply to loved ones that don’t have dementia, but have other special needs.

Travel tips before you leave home

These travel tips might help you, the caregiver, to prepare for your trip:

  • If you’re staying with family or friends, make sure they know about any special care needs and what to expect. As a caregiver, share details about your loved one’s condition and any symptoms or behaviors to expect.
  • Prepare a concise health history, list of medications, and contact information for your doctors in case health issues arise on your journey. Give family members a copy of your itinerary and contact information at your destination.
  • Be realistic about your loved one’s capabilities and shape your travel around him. Talk to his health-care provider about anti-anxiety medications or other prescriptions if you think they may be helpful.
  • Plan your itinerary in manageable travel segments. As much as possible, limit the amount of time spent in a car, train, or plane. Book direct flights whenever possible to avoid disruptive layovers. For trips lasting over four hours, you may want to see if you can arrange for someone to help you.
  • If your loved one needs assistance in the bathroom, plan ahead and be prepared to help out in a restroom on an airplane, at a relative’s house, or wherever you may go. Bring restroom supplies if needed.
  • Get plenty of rest the day before your trip. Allow plenty of time the morning of your journey to get ready to avoid unnecessary stress.

Travel tips during the journey

Travel is often stressful, even without caregiver duties for an ill loved one. These travel tips from the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation may help smooth the journey.

  • If your loved one has cognitive impairments or is prone to wandering away, prepare an ID tag with your cell phone number he or she can wear around the neck during the trip.
  • Keep medications and anything you need for the journey in a carry-on bag with you. If you’re flying, request a middle or window seat for your loved one and take advantage of pre-boarding.
  • Pack photos, cards, or other distractions in case your loved one becomes nervous or agitated on the journey.
  • Limit your loved one’s caffeine or cola consumption during the trip.
  • If you are driving, be sure to pull over if your loved one becomes agitated or needs help. Don’t try to assist while you’re driving.

Travel tips at the destination

As a caregiver, you’ll most likely enjoy your trip more if your loved one is comfortable and safe. These travel tips from the Fisher Center may help once you reach your destination.

  • Try to maintain your loved one’s daily routine as much as possible. Keep regular bedtime, nap time, and wake-up schedules and serve meals and snacks around the usual time.
  • Bring familiar items from home for your loved one, such as a favorite pillow, blanket, and pajamas.
  • Minimize time spent in noisy or chaotic situations, such as large family gatherings with small children or busy public parks and shopping malls.
  • Be realistic about your expectations and try to have back-up plans in case of unexpected events so that you aren’t overwhelmed when they occur.

Ultimately, careful planning is the key to successful travel as a caregiver. Maintaining a calm environment and regular schedules will go a long way toward ensuring an enjoyable trip for your loved one, too.

This article is for general information only and may not apply to your circumstances. This article should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine

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