Written by Active Minds on Friday the 3rd of August 2018.
For many of us, the summer months means holidays, but for people living with dementia and their carers, holidays can often be a source of stress and something which is avoided. However, just because you or your loved one are living with dementia, does not mean that you cannot enjoy some time away, whether that be abroad or in the UK. A holiday can be really beneficial way to spend some quality time with loved ones, relaxing, enjoying each other’s company, having new experiences and simply taking time out of your day-to-day life to unwind and rest. However, whilst a holiday should be an enjoyable experience for a person with dementia, there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure the holiday goes as smoothly as possible, for you and your loved one.
Regardless of the destination of your holiday, spend time researching the area and locating the nearest hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. If you are abroad, make sure you know the emergency numbers.
Make a list of all the medication that is being taken, so it is easy to access this information in case of any emergencies.
Make sure medical insurance is up to date (including your E111 card – European health insurance card) and you have any documentation in an easy to find place.
Being in a new environment can be distressing for a person with dementia. Pack a familiar object from home, such as a blanket or family photos, which your loved one can keep with them to help them relax.
A new environment can cause disorientation for a person with dementia. Ensure that you walk your loved one around the accommodation you are staying in so they can start to familiarise themselves with the building. You may want to print out signs for important rooms, such as the bathroom or bedroom, to help your loved one navigate the building.
A person with dementia may wake in the night and become distressed in the unfamiliar environment. Pack some low-level night lights that can be kept on during the night time, so should your loved one wake, they are able to see their surroundings, reducing their disorientation.
Whilst it’s tempting to want to fill up every hour of your holiday with fun activities, be mindful of a person with dementia and their tiredness. Try to plan activities for the morning, leaving the afternoon free for relaxing, sleeping or gentle, low-key activities such as art activities for elderly with dementia. This will help reduce any anxiety or frustration they may start to feel if they become too exhausted or overwhelmed.