‘Tis the season … for making travel plans. And, as air travel continues to get more back to normal, this year promises to be busier than ever.
For many of us, air travel brings a heightened level of stress. Packing, getting tickets in order, shuttling to and from busy airports requires us to pay attention and be alert as we hustle to our departing gates. Then, once on board, it’s all about stashing the carry-on bags, finding your seat, and waiting for takeoff.
With that in mind, imagine how stressful navigating a busy airport can be for an individual with dementia. Minor disruptions become major ones; check-ins bring their own unique challenges. Add to that, sitting for a prolonged period of time on a stuffy airplane and you have a perfect storm for an anxiety attack.
What you may find it surprising to learn, however, is that with solid planning and attention to details, individuals with dementia, especially in the earlier stages, can handle air travel with minimal disruption and stress.
The key, of course is careful planning and preparation.
Here are just a few of the great air travel tips from Dementia.org:
- Get to the airport extra early. This really goes without saying, but if the airport suggests two hours, make it three.
- Let the airport staff know you are traveling with a cognitive-impaired individual. This can make a huge difference, as most airports are well equipped to assist families with special needs. Take advantage of it!
- Pack snacks and water. Sudden onset of hunger and thirst can be avoided by bringing familiar snacks and plenty of water along.
- Bring noise canceling headphones. Loud talking and babies crying can create anxiety. These headphones are great at screening it all out.
- Check as many bags as possible. The fewer items you need to schlep through the airport the better. You will be able to focus on your loved one, not handling a lot of extra bags.
Also note that the more you can do at home to get ready in advance of your travel date, the less stressful the actual day will be. You can begin packing bags a few days early as well as organizing your snack items and other carry-on items for the trip.
And, finally, remember that the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed and less stressed your loved one will be. You can find more travel tips and insights from Dementia Friendly Airports.
Enjoy your trip!