Page 6 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - July 2018 - 25-07
P. 6

Page 6 Senior Times - July 2018
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
When your older adult has dementia, it doesn’t automatically mean that they can’t travel with you. In fact, traveling with your loved one can
be a wonderful and positive experience. But it’s essential to honestly evaluate their symptoms before making a decision. Even if someone is doing well in their familiar environment and daily routine, that doesn’t necessarily mean travel will go smoothly.
For example, wandering, agitation, or angry outbursts could increase when they’re out of their comfort zone. That’s because routine and being home create feelings of security and comfort. When travel interrupts that familiarity, all bets are off.
Safety is always the top priority. Before plan- ning that next trip be sure to fully evaluate your scenario to determine the safety level for both you and your person with dementia. Look for any immediate signs that may make travel challenging or unsafe. This is the first step in creating travel plans that will be successful. An accurate eval- uation will help you to safely test if travel will work. If not, there are creative solutions to enjoy a positive experience that do not include actually traveling.
If you have additional support to provide care for your loved one, as well as a supportive environment that you are traveling to, the risk and challenges will be somewhat diminished.
Identify immediate signs that traveling with dementia can be challenging, and possibly unsafe. Does your loved one experience:
• Frequent disorientation, confusion, or agitation
(even in familiar places). This can create poten- tial risk.
• Getting upset or anxious in crowded or loud environments can lead to potentially unsafe reactions.
• Wanting to go home while on short outings or visits. Often this is their way of telling you that they don’t feel safe.
• Physical aggression can lead to injury.
• Wandering behavior is a safety risk.
• High risk of falls can lead to injury.
• Unstable medical conditions may contribute to
your safety concerns.
• Problems managing incontinence can add to your challenges as a caregiver.
• Verbal aggression, sudden yelling, screaming, crying, or delusional, paranoid, or inappropriate behavior can be challenging for you as the care- giver.
• Later stage dementia – Continual care needs may create the greatest challenge for safe travel at this stage. It can be exhausting for the care- giver, adding risk of fatigue resulting in poten- tial injury.
If you are ready to take on the challenge after an initial assessment consider the follow- ing for deciding if traveling with dementia will be successful for you and your loved one.
1. How advanced are your older adult’s dementia symptoms? In the early stages of dementia, a person may still enjoy traveling. As the disease progresses, it might become overwhelming.
It’s tougher to decide if travel will be a good idea in the middle stages of dementia. In this stage, it’s especially important to be realistic when assessing their abilities and challenges. Symptoms can come and go and may vary wide- ly. It may be best to err on the side of caution.
If someone is in late-stage dementia, travel is usually not recommended. At this point, the per- son with dementia will likely be easily fatigued and overwhelmed by everyday activities, more vulnerable to illness or infection, or struggling with physical abilities like sitting, eating, or swallowing.
2. How well are you coping with their dementia symptoms? An important consider- ation that’s often overlooked is how you’re doing.
Traveling with someone with dementia is tough, even for an experienced caregiver. The reality is that you’ll need to manage unexpected situations, challenging behaviors (sometimes in public), lack of sleep, and extra-stressful situa- tions.
If you’re coping well with your older adult’s current dementia symptoms, that’s a good sign. But if you’re struggling to manage symptoms, feeling overwhelmed and burned out, or if you’re learning to deal with new symptoms, travel prob- ably won’t be a good idea right now.
It’s good
to be home
Elderly is defined as 62 or older, or disabled of any age
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