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Hassle Free Holidays While Caring For Someone With Dementia
Holidays are a special time: spending time together or with family and friends; visiting new places or revisiting places of special significance. We all have our holiday preferences – sun, sea, snow, coast, city or countryside.
Holidays with someone who has a dementia should be possible with extra planning and considering what you both expect from the holiday.
Here is the pick of good advice when planning a holiday that includes someone living with a dementia.
If you do not have access to a computer, you can ask Devon Carers Helpline to print and post any factsheets to you.
Going it alone or an organised holiday?
To help you decide, have a look at this advice from the Alzheimer’s Society
There is a growing market of holiday providers for families that include a person living with a dementia:
Dementia Adventure: https://dementiaadventure.co.uk/what-we-do/our-holidays/
Phone: 01245 237548
Holidays include walking in the Lake District; sailing on a Thames barge; tea dancing in Whitby, or just strolling and chilling in remote mid Wales
They welcome people with all types of dementia and can arrange personal care if necessary. If a small group holiday is not your thing, perhaps you might like a bespoke holiday? Ideal for groups of friends or families who want to travel together – please contact the company for more information.
Phone: 01509 351008
MindforYou offers supported holidays throughout the year for people living with dementia and their relatives/carers to enjoy together, as an alternative to traditional respite.
Tourism for All
Also available is membership of Tourism for All – a charity that supports people to find and organise holidays to suit their needs: https://www.tourismforall.org.uk/individuals
Or phone: 0845 124 9971
Membership is £25 a year. The site gives information on a range of discounts and benefits that you might be able to claim.
As a Member you will be entitled to receive a range of exclusive privileged rates and discounts, on places to stay, travel insurance and specialist holidays, from accommodation and service providers who are our Partners (Partners include Caravan and Camping Club; Visit Scotland; Visit England; Visit Wales; Premier Inn; Hover Travel – to the Isle of Wight).
It is important to declare the dementia as a pre-existing condition on the travel insurance to ensure you are fully covered.
Devon Carers cannot recommend any specific insurance company so your usual company or asking your travel agent for a recommendation may be a good starting place.
The Alzheimer’s Society have this advice:
Round up of top tips:
If you don’t have access to a computer and printer, please ring Devon Carers Helpline and ask them to print and post them to you.
Being prepared well in advance:
Research the place you are thinking of visiting for its friendliness and appropriateness of the environment (e.g size of hotel; ensuite; arrangements for food and drink etc).
Book for a quiet time – so research and ask if there are local festivals or weddings that might make the place more crowded than you would like.
Before travelling, ask your GP for a letter to enable you to access extra help such as fast-tracking baggage clearance or wheelchair/caddy transportation through the airport/ferryport etc and priority treatment should your travel arrangements be delayed.
More information on booking help with train/Eurostar connections can be found here: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/holidays-travel-journey-transport
Always carry a description of the person, including what they were wearing and a recent photo
Consider getting the person with the dementia to wear a medic alert bracelet as well as carrying some ID and a note of your mobile number in their wallet/bag. If you do this as well, it can ‘normalise’ these precautions.
Pack things the person may find familiar and comforting such as own pillow, own clock, usual foods; activities (sudoku, jigsaw; colouring or whatever the person finds reduces their stress) etc.
Could the person get to tolerate headphones? Noise cancelling headphones or taking your own to use the airplane media might reduce stress.
If travelling or going to stay with family and friends, manage their expectations by briefing them on how much the person will be able to join in; what kind of activities they would appreciate, and how much support you are going to need to ensure you also get a break.
Be vigilant for people who can help: airport/train station staff: and places of use: accessible toilets, cafes and information desks etc. If travelling with friends or family, consider giving them this duty.
If travelling by car, build in breaks every couple of hours.
Carry essentials in your personal bag: medication; description of the person you are supporting; carton of drink; wetwipes and snacks; and other things that you might need in a hurry.
At the destination
Be as honest as you can about the amount of support you and the person with the dementia might need. For example, make staff aware of any specific needs; ask staff to give support to the person if you need to do something on your own for a short time. Ask about priority of extra help should there be an emergency.
Take daily photos of the place with the person in it. The person will probably enjoy the moment, but photos can be helpful prompts or talking points afterwards.
Be assertive to remind friends and family of the support you need.