Summertime is in full swing, and (if you’re anything like us) you are itching to get out and about and enjoy the gorgeous weather. Even though COVID-19 has changed the landscape of summer fun, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t plenty of opportunities to enjoy everything this season has to bring. That includes – believe it or not – travel.
“As stay-at-home orders are lifted and we start cautiously venturing out into the world, visiting friends and family are at the top of most of our to-do lists,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Summer is, of course, the perfect time to do this. The days are longer, the kids are out of school and it plays into our long history of summer vacations.”
If you’re a caregiver to someone with dementia, you may wonder whether or not travel is in the cards this summer. Andrea says there’s no reason you and your loved one can’t enjoy traveling to places in 2020. “Dementia-friendly travel is possible – it requires a little extra effort on your part, but it can result in a wonderful time for you and your senior loved one,” she says. “COVID-19 concerns will, of course, add an extra dimension to your travel preparations, but by planning ahead and being flexible, you can definitely plan a trip that will result in a lot of fun and memories for everyone involved.”
Tip #1: Keep It Simple
While there are certainly ways to make airplane and train travel accessible for individuals with dementia, Andrea suggests that for 2020, it’s probably a good idea to keep travel short, simple and somewhat limited. “We still aren’t sure exactly what ‘travel’ will look like in our nation’s airports as we continue to reopen, and we aren’t sure how dementia-friendly the regulations will be,” she says. Although flying certainly can be the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B, Andrea suggests adapting your plans this year to keep destinations within a day’s drive of your home base.
Tip #2: Keep It Small
Dementia itself isn’t thought to increase the risk of COVID-19 for your loved one. However, advanced age and other health issues can increase your loved one’s risk factor. Since there is currently still no vaccine available for COVID-19, it’s probably best to avoid big, extensive family-and-friend get-togethers this summer. “Big crowds mean more chances for the virus to spread, so to keep you and your loved one safe, stick to smaller groups and practice good safety precautions,” says Andrea.
Tip #3: Make It Familiar
Was there a location you and your loved one always visited in summers past? Perhaps a lake home, or a certain park or another destination? Andrea suggests that places that could spark memories are a great way to get out and enjoy different – yet familiar – scenery. You could even ask your loved one what some of their favorite summer memories are or places that they used to visit when they were small.
Tip #4: Travel During a Good Time of Day
As a caregiver, you know your loved one’s routine better than anyone else. You know there are certain times of the day when she’s at her best – or when he’s absolutely the worst. If possible, schedule your travel times when your loved one is calmest, happiest and at their “best.” This will (hopefully) mean that traveling will go as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to pack essential items to keep your loved one happy and entertained, such as snacks, games and favorite CDs.
Tip #5: Bring Essential Documents
Whether you’re traveling near or far, be sure that you have photocopies of all essential information that will allow you to get the access, information or assistance you need in the event of an emergency. Lists of medications, emergency contacts, powers of attorney, advance directives, IDs and other important documents should be within arm’s reach at all times. You may want to consider leaving copies of the same information with a close friend or family member so someone always has easy access to them.
Tip #6: Don’t Do It Alone
There’s no reason to stretch yourself thin while traveling, even if it’s just for a short while. Consider bringing a friend, family member or another caregiver on the trip with you so you have an extra pair of hands to help out with your loved one. Not only will this mean that you can get a little break from time to time, but you’ll also have yet another person to share the experience with.
Tip #7: Be Prepared
Since no one knows for sure what the travel landscape will look like this summer, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Where will you eat if restaurants continue to be carry-out or drive-through only? What about rest stops and other bodily necessities? Do you know places along the route where you can stop and sleep if you or your loved one become anxious or uncomfortable in the car? Do you have plenty of hand sanitizer and wet wipes if there aren’t places to wash hands? The more you think through the various scenarios, the more prepared you will be.
Tip #8: Stay Flexible
Every dementia caregiver knows that things can change at the drop of a hat. Perhaps on the day of your scheduled travel, your loved one suddenly becomes ill, or is having an episode or something else occurs where you need to change your plans. Or maybe the place you were going has suddenly shut down again due to an outbreak. Remember to take a deep breath, center yourself and remain flexible. If travel suddenly is off the table, are there things you can do at home or around your hometown that can be just as enjoyable – and perhaps a little bit easier? Instead of traveling to see a family member, could that family member instead visit you? Or what about scheduling a virtual visit? Keep your mind open to the possibilities, and this summer will soon be filled with endless opportunities for enjoyment and fun.
For more information about traveling with someone with dementia, or to learn more about our community, mission and values, please contact us at 925-272-0261.
Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care
The Reutlinger Community is affiliated with Eskaton Senior Living. Our mission is to provide high quality health care and social support services in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment with a commitment to Jewish values.
Offering Assisted Living, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live in a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger Community’s renovated 110,000-square-foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any senior’s needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.
Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.
At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.
For more information, contact us today.