Daily life with dementia: Holiday and Vacation

This information comes to us from Dementia Guide, part of the National Social Services Board. These are some important considerations to help you plan and enjoy your holiday with a person with dementia.

Holiday with dementia

Going on vacation together can provide shared experiences and a break from everyday life for both people with dementia and caregivers. To make the holiday a good experience, it is important to prepare thoroughly. The person with dementia may find new surroundings confusing or respond inappropriately. As a caregiver, you may use as much energy to ensure that the person with dementia will have a good journey, you do not even get anything out of the holiday. Therefore, it is important that you carefully consider what kind of holiday that is most suitable for you. Continue reading

Being outdoors and traveling with dementia

This post comes from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. It’s an international collaborative formed to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s prevention research. Go ahead an check out their website when you’re done reading!

As the weather warms up, our thoughts naturally turn to outdoor activities and travel. These activities can be challenging for someone with Alzheimer’s, but they can also provide powerful ways to enrich their lives and brighten their spirits and yours. As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, though, you’ll need to plan carefully for each outing or journey.
Going Out
Getting outside can be a good activity both for someone with Alzheimer’s and for their caregiver. Some activities can be enjoyed close to home, such as taking care of (or just watering) plants in the garden or yard. If you and your person with Alzheimer’s are comfortable with it, you can also plan trips to a botanical garden, museum or art exhibit, or to the pool (at a quiet time) or park. You’ll want to plan outings for the time of day when the person is at his or her best. And, be sure to keep outings from becoming too long, since you’ll want to be careful that the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t become tired or confused.
Travel
Travel presents special problems for someone with Alzheimer’s because it naturally takes them out of their home routines. To test whether travel is a good idea or not, you might plan a “staycation” first by spending the night at a hotel in your town or city and eating three meals out. If this experience causes the person with Alzheimer’s distress, travel may not be a good idea.
When you do travel, if you can, go with another friend or family member, and be sure to have help at the airport or train station. Bring personal items or keepsakes that you know will comfort the person with Alzheimer’s, and also be sure to have copies of important phone numbers, documents and medical records, just in case. Also, be prepared for your person to wander in the airport or train station if given the opportunity. You may want to dress him or her distinctively and to include an ID bracelet as part of the wardrobe. It’s often helpful meet with a doctor beforehand to discuss medications that may calm someone who becomes distressed.
When you arrive at your destination, try to maintain a routine as close to your home rhythm as possible: schedule meals, sleep and bathroom breaks at the same time as at home, for example. At night, be sure to have a light on in the bathroom and a clear path to get there. Leave plenty of time for rest, and don’t plan too many activities. Finally, be prepared to cut your visit short if the situation turns out to be too much for the person with Alzheimer’s.
Resources:
Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
National Institute on Aging:
Alzheimer’s Association:
Upcoming Webinar:
Dementia Dialogues: Planning Successful Travel
Just in time for summer travel, learn tactics to make your trips as successful as possible.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 3-4 pm Eastern

5 criteria for dementia-friendly hotels

Feeling stuck at home? Here’s a guide to dementia-friendly travel with your loved one. You can do it!

This article is a re-post from Alzlive.com. Check them out for more travel tips and information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Do your pre-trip sleuthing to ensure your lodgings are safe and sound for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Not all hotel rooms are created equal! Here are five features to look for or request when booking travel in the United States, Canada or even further afield, if you are adventurous. These amenities provide a safer, better home-sweet-home experience for patients and caregivers.
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7 tips for easier air travel with dementia

Plan ahead for a smoother, more pleasant airport and flying experience.

Many Alzheimer’s patients enjoy travelling, but as the disease progresses, patients (and caregivers!) will find it increasingly difficult. These tips will help make your next air travel experience less stressful

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5 great hotels for traveling with dementia

This is a re-post from AlzLive. It highlights 5 places to stay in the UK if you are planning to travel with someone with dementia.

TOP HOTELS

by YUKI HAYASHI

Five great vacation homes-away-from-home for you and your relative with dementia.

When it comes to offering the services required for safe vacationing with a dementia patient, the U.K. is years ahead of most countries. It’s critically important that caregivers, who are often on call 24 hours a day, get a break for their own health and sanity. For that reason–not to mention the breathtaking scenery, historic tours and R+R potential–consider going across the pond for your next vacation. Here are five U.K. destinations we love. 

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Q&A: Do we continue family vacations with Alzheimer’s?

I came across this question on a Danish caregiving forum (DemensNet.dk) through the Danish Alzheimer’s Association (Alzheimerforeningen), and thought it would be relevant to include here. The questions are not uncommon to family situations, and the answers are superb!

Danish summer houses

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Dementia-friendly travel with EasyJet

The article below is about EasyJet, a low-cost airline based out of the UK, is joining Dementia Friends! The UK is really doing great things to make businesses and communities dementia-friendly. Awesome!!

This article is a repost from AlzLive, a great website to check out, by the way. Happy reading and happy travels!

FLY THE DEMENTIA-FRIENDLY SKIES OF EASYJET

By Susan Grimbly, Managing Editor

easyJet, the short-haul budget British airline carrier with the long orange type, is the first airline to step in line with the dementia challenge issued by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012.

Flying with dementia is a growing challenge in the aviation industry. As Roberto Castiglioni, at ReducedMobility.eu, reports:

The travel experience of a passenger with Alzheimer’s can plunge into chaos at its early stages, as soon as the person reaches the airport terminal.

The travel experience of a passenger with Alzheimer’s can plunge into chaos at its early stages, as soon as the person reaches the airport terminal building.

A new, largely unknown location or a crowded departure hall can be sufficient to cause disorientation.

Reduced Mobility Rights has come across reports of passengers with dementia wandering off airport premises.

“The in-flight experience, and external factors such as cabin pressurization, a crowded flight, and seating restrictions (safety belts) may also cause unexpected behavior.”

To read the rest of the story “Is Dementia The Next Challenge For The Air Travel Industry?” go to ReducedMobility.eu here. Those are sobering thoughts.

Easyjet interior

Alzlive.com spoke to an easyJet spokesperson about the company’s forward-thinking strategy.

Why easyJet?

The initiative, called Dementia Friends, was launched by the Alzheimer’s Society and the Cabinet Office, and includes names such as Marks & Spencer, EDF, FirstGroup and Lloyds Bank.

Who is the executive within your company pushing for this?

easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall proposed this change as an integral part of our strategy and on the advice of easyJet’s Special Assistance Advisory Group, which is chaired by the Right Hon. David Blunkett MP, and includes Age UK among its members. The group has been discussing the issue for some time.

How big is the company and would the dementia-friendly staff be on all flights?

easyJet is the U.K.’s largest airline and the fourth largest in Europe. easyJet plans to roll this out to all of its staff.

How many staff would you hire to start with?

This will be part of the comprehensive special assistance training we already provide to all staff and will help raise awareness of the issue.

Have issues with handling those with dementia come up on flights in the past?

We cannot comment on any specific cases, but dementia sufferers are known to sometimes wander off. The U.S. Alzheimer’s Association explains that 60 percent of persons with Alzheimer’s will wander at some stage, which is why pre-notification is so important. A dementia sufferer on board can also pose a challenge for any crew unaware of the condition.

This can be a difficult and unpleasant experience for both the sufferer and the crew. We also need to consider the safety implications for of all our passengers on board as this is our number one priority.

How many people with dementia, would you guess, are now flying/travelling?

This is difficult to assess as pre-notification remains low in this area. easyJet flies around 300,000 passengers requiring special assistance every year.

Do you think this passenger group will grow?

There is no doubt that with Europe’s population living longer, out of 61 million passengers annually, the number of possible sufferers flying with easyJet is likely to increase. A Eurostat survey has shown that in 2040, 25.5 percent of the population will be over 65 years old and 8.4 percent over 80, whereas today the numbers are 16 percent and 4 percent respectively.

We want to make travel easy and affordable for all of our passengers which is why we have joined the campaign.

Do you think other airlines will develop a dementia-friendly policy?

We are the first airline to join the Dementia Friends program. This is a challenge that concerns the whole industry and we have no doubt that other airlines will follow suit.

For more, go to: http://www.easyjet.com/en/

Safety tips for traveling alone

I came across this article on the AARP website. It must be a frightening thing to drop off a loved one with dementia at the airport, not knowing what is going to happen until they are picked up on the other side. This article is about making it as safe as you can for loved ones with dementia who are traveling alone. The tips can help the travel go smoothy and safely.  Hope these tips can help!

7 Tips for Safety When Loved Ones Travel Alone

If your older loved ones are traveling alone, there are precautions and services you, as their supporters and caregivers, can take advantage of to ensure their safety.

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Dementia challenges the tourism industry

I came across this post on the Remembering4You blog. Ethelle Lord is a Professional Alzheimer’s Coach and founder of Remembering 4 You (pioneering Alzheimer’s coaching by training and certifying people in coaching other professionals or families involved in dementia care). She is also the designer of the Alzheimer’s Friendly Healthcare Workforce™ model of care (a model to shift from a medical model to a care model). I first came to know Ethelle Lord through the International Caregivers Association (ICA). The ICA is a global association that addresses Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for the people who are living with them and their families and caregivers. The ICA provides resources, including online education, coaching, and support services.

This article is about how people with dementia still enjoy traveling, even for years post-diagnosis. The travel industry needs to accommodate these customers to allow ALL people to safely travel.

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Tourism for adults 55+

Crowd-sourcing age-friendly locations

AGE-CAP (AGE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES ASSESSMENT APP)

 
The Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Lab (IATSL) at the University of Toronto (Department of Occupational Science and Therapy) has developed a smart phone app to create a crowd-sourced database of age-friendly locations, called Age-CAP. They are a multi-disciplinary group of researchers (engineering, computer science, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and gerontology) who aim to develop zero-effort technologies (technologies that require zero effort from the “user”) that are adaptive, flexible, and intelligent.
You can read more about their work (and participate in a research study in the Toronto area) on their website.

Age-CAP is a cross-platform smart phone application which aims to create a crowd-sourced database of age-friendly locations. It consists of survey-style forms which allow users to quickly rate the age-friendliness of a location or service. The criteria for rating was developed using the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities guidelines (which I also worked on during my internship with the WHO in Copenhagen), and age-friendly community initiatives in other North American cities.

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Take Advantage of the Summer Weather

How Older Adults and Caregivers Can Take Advantage of the Summer Weather

This is a re-post from our friends at agingcare.com, offering ideas for getting outside and enjoying the summer weather together!

Enjoying a breezy spring day or the warm summer temperatures don’t have to be a distant memory for elders and caregivers. After being cooped up in the house for possibly months at a time, senior adults can breathe in the fresh air, even if they are experiencing mobility problems. It takes some advance planning and choosing an activity that won’t seem like a chore, but it’s worth getting out of the house, for you and your elderly parent.

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Caregiving at a Cookout

Caregiving at a Cookout:  Tips for a Good Time

This is a re-post from agingcare.com, a great website with plenty of ideas and resources for caregivers.

Almost everyone looks forward to gathering with family and friends for a backyard barbecue. But if you’ve been dreading going to one because of your responsibilities as a caregiver, never fear: Both you and your elderly loved one can have a fine time, if you plan ahead.

But first, make sure that your relative is in good enough health to attend a party where there will be heat, bugs, noise, smoke from the grill and possibly rambunctious children. Also, check with your hosts to ensure that they understand and can accommodate your loved one’s limitations. If not, find another caregiver to look after your relative while you attend alone; it’s important for you to socialize and recharge.

However, if your hosts are amenable and your loved one is up to it, don’t leave him or her behind. Joan Wright, a certified geriatric manager at NVNA and Hospice in Norwell, Mass., told AgingCare that you should remember that every elderly person was once young, mobile and eager to socialize. “Those desires are still there even if their physical capacity to fulfill them is not.”

Here are some tips from Ms. Wright and others to ensure that everyone has a good time:

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Garden and Grow Together

Gardening and Growing Together

This is a re-post from agingcare.com, and I hope it inspires you to get your hands a little dirtier 🙂

To grow a more meaningful and healthy connection with an elderly loved one, put on some rubber clogs and head out together to the garden.

At any age, gardening is one of the best activities we can do outdoors, several experts told AgingCare.com. It stimulates all of the senses; awakens our connection with nature and with each other; and rewards us with fresh flowers and juicy tomatoes. “It’s restorative, even if you have dementia,” says Dee McGuire, a horticultural therapist at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore.

Gardening is also an excellent way for aging bodies to get a moderate-intensity aerobic workout, shed calories and stay flexible, according to a Kansas State University study. That’s one reason why gardening remains popular with Americans well into their golden years. Indeed, about three-quarters of households age 55 or older participated in some form of lawn and garden activity in 2010, according to the National Gardening Association (NGA).

Still, there’s no question that bending, lifting, kneeling, squatting, weeding and pruning—not to mention dealing with sun, heat and bugs– all become more challenging as we grow older.

But there are ways to cope.

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10 Ideas for Outings

10 Ideas for Spring Outings

This is a re-post from agingcare.com, and I am happy to pass on some good ideas for your dementia adventures!

Many aging adults spend the bulk of their time just managing to get through the day. They take care of life’s basics but often don’t leave their home, assisted living center or nursing home, except for doctor appointments and an occasional holiday.

Families and friends might like to take a senior out for some fun but they don’t know how to go about it. Even seasoned caregivers can be stumped for ideas, so here are a few to get started:

  1. Take a Sunday drive. When I was young, driving around the community to check out home town activity was a Sunday afternoon ritual for many adults. While life is more complicated now, many elders still enjoy watching new construction or being shown how the town that they’ve lived in for decades is changing. For those who live near flood prone bodies of water, spring is a terrific time to take a drive to see how this year’s water levels compare to other years. A twist on this approach is to pick a prime time when cherry trees, crab apple trees or other ornamentals are at their peak and do a flower tour. Getting out of the car is optional, based on your elder’s abilities and wishes.
  2. Go to the zoo. Who doesn’t like baby animals? Spring is birth time for most species. Rent or borrow a wheelchair if one is needed for longer walks. Not only will your elders see baby animals, they will see young children reacting to the animals. As with everything suggested, watch your loved one for signs of fatigue, thirst, too much sun or other issues that could signal that it’s time to leave, perhaps with a promise to return at another time should they wish to do so.
  3. Go to a restaurant. When was the last time you took your elder to a restaurant that he or she has enjoyed over the years? Now that snow isn’t a problem, it’s easier to navigate such adventures. Keep in mind that going for a meal at off-peak times is a good idea. That usually means less stress for everyone. Also, elders who are hard of hearing won’t feel as isolated if there’s less background noise.
  4. Visit a Dairy Queen. One of my mom’s favorite treats was a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Queen. I’d often take her to get a sundae on the way home from a doctor visit or other necessary outing, but occasionally we’d go to Dairy Queen just for something to do. She preferred sitting in the car to eat, but I do suggest encouraging your loved ones to sit outside if the weather’s nice and they are able.
  5. Enjoy children at play. Watch children swim or play on playground equipment. Spring brings young children out in throngs. People who enjoy children often like hearing their laughter and watching the seeming innocence of this type of play.
  6. Spring programs. Take your elder to the spring programs that most schools sponsor. This is particularly nice if a grandchild or great-grandchild is involved, but that’s not necessary. If your elder doesn’t know any of the children, then I’d suggest focusing on the younger ones. They tend to be “cuter.” However, if grandchildren are involved, take your elder to watch them perform in their concerts, plays or other activities. You may have to arrange for a spouse or friend to be available to take Grandma home if she gets tired or uncomfortable. A twist on this idea is to attend one of the concerts in the park that many communities have during the spring and summer.
  7. Have a picnic. Whether you go to a park, stay in your own backyard or use the grounds of the nursing home, a picnic is often possible. If your loved one is able, going to a park would be nice, however many nursing homes have gorgeous grounds and nice areas with tables that accommodate wheel chairs. If all else fails—and I’m aware that this isn’t an outing but sometimes we have to punt—bring a picnic to your loved one in the care home.
  8. Check out the crops. If your elder has an agricultural background or is interested in wildflowers, try taking a country drive. My parents didn’t have any first-hand agricultural experience, but they still enjoyed driving in the country to see new crops being planted and wild flowers blooming. Tailor this outing to your area of the country and your elder’s preferences.
  9. Go fishing. A friend told me that his community sponsors events where elders are taken out on pontoons—wheelchairs and all—to fish. Volunteers are there to help with anything the elder can’t do. Just being out on the water and holding a rod can be a thrill for someone who has enjoyed fishing in the past. Again, this can be adjusted to accommodate other pastimes.
  10. Visit a friend. Many elders lose touch with their peers. Sickness, the death of a spouse and/or difficulty getting around can mean they haven’t seen a dear friend for months or even years. See if you can set up a lunch or just a visit with someone your loved one has enjoyed through the years. Perhaps you can take them both to a park or a restaurant.

Use these ideas as springboards. You know your loved one. What did his or she enjoy in their earlier, healthier days? Don’t be afraid to ask what they miss doing or what they’d like to do. They may not hear those questions very often these days.

If you get a shoulder shrug or an “I don’t know,” then be ready to say, “Sunday looks nice so we’ll go for a picnic.” You may get some resistance but if it seems like simple inertia, just say with a smile that it would make you very happy if they’d do this for you. If a loved one truly doesn’t want to be part of an activity, try whittling down your expectations and suggesting something less strenuous.

As mentioned above, during any of these activities monitor your loved one for dehydration and heat issues if the weather is warm, or chilliness if it’s cool. Older bodies don’t adjust to temperature changes as well as younger ones. Be prepared with sun hats and hooded windbreakers. Also, bring water to drink and watch for fatigue.

And remember, you are doing this for pleasure, so don’t overdo anything.