June is National Safety Month – and the time of year when many Americans plan summer and holiday travel. Whether you’re considering a weekend getaway or an extended stay, traveling with an individual who has Alzheimer’s requires additional thought and preparation.
People with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers need to be prepared for a change in schedule and environment. Even if it is a trip you have taken before, it may feel new for the person with the disease.
Additionally, as Alzheimer’s progresses, negotiating changes in environment will become increasingly challenging. Be prepared for the individual with the disease to experience some confusion or disorientation. Exercise caution, as wandering and getting lost are more likely during transitional times. The checklist below will help you plan for the trip and make it successful and safe.
- Call the Alzheimer’s Association chapter in the area you will be visiting. Let them know you will be staying in the area and ask about available resources. You can locate any chapter by calling 1.800.272.3900 or visiting www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp.
- Enroll the person in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. You may also want to consider the Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone®, powered by Omnilink, a Web-based GPS location management service or Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone Check-InTM.
- If you are already enrolled in MedicAlert, update your records with temporary contact information (call 1.888.572.8566).
- Let neighbors know a person with Alzheimer’s is staying next door and ask them to keep their eye out for wandering or other unsafe behavior.
- During the first few days after arrival, keep your schedule light with lots of down time.
- Create opportunities to re-acclimate the person to the new environment.
- Keep familiar things around.
- Limit access to money and credit cards.
- Limit access to driving.
- Be aware that the change can be chaotic for the person.
- Recognize the warning signs of anxiety and agitation.
For more tips on safety for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including concerns about wandering, disaster preparedness, home and medication safety, visit the Alzheimer’s Association Safety Center at www.alz.org/safetycenter or call 1.800.272.3900 to find the Alzheimer’s Association chapter closest to you.