Experts working for Care UK and people with experience of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in their family have worked together to produce a free booklet to help others plan holidays and trips away this summer.
The 14 page booklet, which can be downloaded free from the Care UK website, offers a wealth of tips on planning trips when one of your party has dementia. From how to handle booking a flight to what to pack, the advice all comes from people who have real experience of taking loved ones with dementia on a trip. It even includes details of charities that might be able to help make a holiday possible and gives contact details for specialist units at a major airline and a coach company which are able to answer detailed questions about travel arrangements.
Pauline Houchin is Care UK’s head of care and clinical services and manages the specialist dementia team which offers bespoke training and strategies to Care UK homes so that they can increase the wellbeing of residents. A nurse for over 30 years, Pauline also has personal experience of caring for a family member at home.
She explained: “If you are caring for a family member or friend with dementia, it can be tempting to think that planning a holiday or trip is just too difficult and just stay at home in your normal everyday routine. However, I always say that taking a trip or holiday doesn’t need to mean travelling hundreds of miles, just a change of scenery can work wonders for both of you. We hope that our booklet will start a conversation, get people thinking about the possibilities for those living with dementia and their carers to make the most of the summer and early autumn months and perhaps to enjoy all the benefits of a well-planned get-away.”
Pauline’s top tips for family carers planning a dementia-friendly trip:
- Think about how long the person living with dementia can travel for, this will be a big deciding factor in your holiday choices. Some people may not enjoy long journeys because they may become disoriented, while other people may prefer to travel by car, rather than using other transport that they are not used to. It’s important to think of your loved one and their preferences when planning the trip and remember to arrange any travel well in advance to give you the best choice of options and prices.
- Think about taking a co-carer with you. If you want to relax on holiday and have some time to yourself, it’s worth including another person on your trip. What’s more your loved one may need more support than usual in a new environment with a changed routine and an extra pair of hands can be really useful.
- Make a list of your requirements and ask your holiday provider how they can help you. Be clear about potential difficulties or limitations so that everyone’s clear on what to expect. If using public transport it’s well worth asking your GP to complete an incapacitated passengers handling advice (INCAD) form and/or a medical information form. These can be very useful in helping you get the support you need.
- Find out everything you can about your destination before you go. Will it be easy to get around? What activities are there? What will you do if the weather is poor? The ideal option is to complete a site visit beforehand, however if that’s not possible local tourism offices can be very helpful.
- Talk to the person you care for about the holiday plans. It's really important to discuss the holiday plans with the person you care for so that they can raise any worries about the trip and you can ensure these are addressed. They may also have ideas of what they would like to do and where they would like to go. Remember to regularly share brochures and pictures of where you’re going so they are prepared for the holiday.
For more top tips download Break away – a guide for family carers on how to successfully plan and enjoy a dementia-friendly holiday.