How to spend time with people with dementia on holiday

How to spend time with people with dementia on holiday

Holidays can be of enormous value to people living with dementia, and their carers too. With Covid travel restrictions now lifted across most of the world, holidays are once again possible, for people with dementia, and for you too.

But while travelling can bring great benefits, it can also prove challenging for those with dementia, and requires careful planning.

The benefits of holidays for people with dementia

1. Creates stimulation and new experiences

Visiting new places, trying new things and meeting new people are all experiences that can provide important stimulation for a person with dementia. This in turn can build their confidence and help to trigger positive emotions. It’s highly rewarding for you, too, to see the person in your care blossom and enjoy a new environment.

2. Provides the chance to reminisce

Travel doesn’t have to be all about new places. Revisiting familiar spots can be very beneficial for a person with dementia. Returning to countries or regions that hold meaning to them can provoke happy memories, and also enable you to gain more insight into their background and passions, bringing you closer.

3. Offers valuable activities

Staying active, getting out in nature and socialising all play an important role in promoting and prolonging wellness in people with dementia. Holidays offer more opportunity to engage in mindful activities, as well as shared experiences that can strengthen the bond between you and the person in your care.

Holiday tips for carers of people with dementia

1. Consider their routine

Routine is highly important for people living with dementia, and before embarking on a trip it’s crucial for you to consider how a person might cope with changes to their routine, and environment. For some people, day trips or activities in the local area might be more suitable than travel that involves an overnight stay – and often just as valuable.

Pick the destination wisely

Would the person get more out of experiencing a new place, or revisiting somewhere familiar, that could trigger positive memories or a sense of nostalgia? Think, too, about the nature of the region or country you’re considering, and its suitability for a person with dementia. For example, how might a change in temperature or time zone affect them?

Don’t forget about transport

Plan the journey carefully. Choose a mode of transport that will avoid unnecessary stress for the person, for example, don’t fly if you think they will find airport security measures too stressful or confusing. Think about what might provide a positive experience instead. Is there a mode of transport they previously enjoyed, for example travelling by train?

Plan engaging activities

Look for enriching activities related to their passions, such as bird-watching or painting, and where possible use the holiday to encourage time spent outdoors. But always double check that the activities you select will be appropriate and safe for the person. It’s a good idea to have a plan B, too, just in case circumstances change.

Remember your own needs

Don’t forget about yourself when on holiday with a person with dementia. You can only provide the best care when you are looking after your own needs as well, so build in some time for you to relax and enjoy the trip, too. And always consider what might happen in an emergency, or who could step in to provide care if you are unable to.

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