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Keeping a loved one with dementia safe while on vacation

Vacationing Without Mom? 5 Tips to Keep her Safe and Connected

For many families embarking on their summer vacations, including their loved one with dementia may not be feasible. The vacation may involve a hectic schedule or a location that is not conducive to caring properly for them. In these cases, a wiser move may be to arrange for your loved one to remain at home.

For some, this will be a welcome decision as they may prefer to avoid the stress of travel. Others, however, may feel left out. That is why discussing your upcoming trip with your loved one should be done in advance and in a way that is sensitive to their needs as well as their emotional wellbeing. Explain to them the nature of the trip and why you feel they will be more relaxed and happier staying at home. Consider setting a date for a visit when you return. That will give them something to look forward to.

Here are some tips to make your time away easier and more secure for your loved one:

  1. Arrange for care. Depending on the stage of dementia your loved one is in, there are a few options. For those in early stages of dementia, in-home care may be an option. This involves having a licensed caregiver staying in your loved one’s home or apartment and help with meals, bathing and other activities of daily living. Another option is “respite” care. This is an arrangement in which your loved one is provided a room, meals, and access to amenities and activities within an assisted living or memory care community. It gives vacationers extra peace of mind that mom or dad is being cared for by licensed professionals in a setting where they can socialize with others. Our Anthem Memory Care communities offer respite care, as do other senior care providers.
  2. Reach out to neighbors and friends: If your loved one will be remaining at home, make the effort to connect with their neighbors and trusted friends. Ask them to check in on your loved one, preferably once a day. If you have arranged for in-home help as well, make sure the caregiver knows who these potential visitors are.
  3. Have a final visit check-up. Does mom have enough food on hand? Does she have her medications organized? Does she have clean clothes? Are safety precautions in place? Create a check list. Be sure to write out your phone number, that of close friends and/or neighbors and any other phone numbers where you are staying. Put this list where it is easily found, such as on the refrigerator door or wall for easy access. If you plan on keeping in touch through Facetime or other video app, make sure your loved one’s phone has the app downloaded and ready to receive those calls.
  4. Take key information with you. It is always a good idea to have a list of phone numbers, doctors, medications taken, and any other information in the event your loved one misplaces it or the caregiver needs additional resources. The more information you have at your fingertips, the better prepared you will feel to help the local caregiver deal with any issues that may arise.
  5. Use technology to stay connected: Are you traveling to a location where you can make a daily call? If so, that call will be well worth your effort. Your loved one will hear your voice, know that you are okay, and feel more included. Be mindful of time zones and try to schedule the call at the same time each day if possible. Alert your loved one’s caregiver of the daily call to make sure they are ready to chat. Also make use of other technologies if possible. There are special devices for phones and TVs that effectively turn them into interactive communications devices. And many of them have easy-to-use interfaces for older adults.

Vacations should be a time for fun and relaxation, especially for family caregivers who need time away to unwind and recharge. Following these tips will help ensure that your loved one is safe and secure in your absence. That extra peace of mind will go a long way towards making your vacation enjoyable, knowing you will return to a loved one who has been well cared for.