FOR many families, summer is a chance to plan day trips and holidays together to coincide with school holidays. This includes the estimated 50,000 people living with dementia in Wales.
According to Alzheimer’s Society Cymru a well-planned holiday can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of people affected by dementia. They can provide new and shared experiences for the person with dementia and their loved ones.
Jolian Ardolino, Wales Country Manager for Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, said: “Holidays offer people living with dementia the chance to visit new places or revisit somewhere familiar. This can be beneficial as they can reminisce about past holidays, or places they used to live. Visiting family and friends or spending time in a country or place, can also be important to the person’s cultural identity.”
Jolian offers some guidance on planning a holiday with or for a person with dementia, to make it as relaxing and fun as possible.
Talk to the person with dementia in the first instance – It is important to think about what kind of holiday is right for everyone. Talk to the person with dementia about whether they would like to go on holiday and if so where they would like to go. Include them in the planning as much as possible.
Choose a trip or holiday that you think they will enjoy – Some people find travelling and holidays quite stressful. Think about the types of holidays the person has previously enjoyed. Is there somewhere you could visit that holds special significance for the person, which would make the trip more meaningful?
Travel insurance – It’s important to tell your insurer about a dementia diagnosis. If you’ve already got insurance check the wording of your policy to see what you need to do. If you can’t find a copy of the policy, it will usually be available on the insurer’s website. If you contact them directly, they will be able to say whether the policy will cover someone with a dementia diagnosis.
Keeping the person safe – Someone with dementia may become confused, get lost or have difficulty communicating when they are travelling. Make sure the person has some form of identification on them and a list of emergency contact numbers.
Travelling can involve big changes in environment and routine – Pack objects that are familiar or reassuring to the person with dementia such as a well-loved photograph, cherished book or comforting blanket. You could create a playlist of their favourite songs. These items can help the person to feel more at home and can be calming if the person gets distressed.
Think about your needs – You may find it hard to relax while providing support to a person with dementia on holiday. Make sure to build in time to rest while you’re away or once you get back home. This can help to make the holiday more enjoyable and restful for everyone.
Many organisations and venues such as museums are becoming more inclusive. There are now over 500 dementia-friendly communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland where local businesses are committed to supporting their customers and employees affected by dementia.
There are a number of UK airports which offer special assistance for people with hidden disabilities like dementia so there is support to travel more widely.
For more information and advice on dementia and holidays visit alzheimers.org.uk or call Alzheimer’s Society’s support line on 0333 150 3456.