Five Tips to Plan a Relaxing and Enjoyable Summer Vacation for Both You and Your Loved One with Dementia!
Summer is just around the corner! A perfect time to take that well deserved time off from work, to relax, have fun, and create special memories with friends and family. But how do you plan a vacation from work when part of your job is taking care of a loved with living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s? Is it possible for it to truly feel like a vacation while your still providing care? The answer is yes!
So before you break out the sunscreen and beach chairs read these five tips to making you, and your loved ones vacation the most fun it can be!
1.) Going out to eat? Here’s how to get the best seat in the house!
Restaurants are in the hospitality business, but that doesn’t always mean they understand the needs of our older adults. However, if they know to prepare, staff will often go above and beyond to make the experience great!
Over the years, I’ve gone out to eat with multiple groups of residents in wheelchairs. Time and time again the host would set us up a table in the farthest corner of the restaurant often stating that it is quieter in the back. We would then parade through the entire restaurant muttering “excuse me” and “do you mind scooting in your chair so we could get by?” Only to do it again at the end of the meal as we make our way back out. The experience is often unpleasant and unnecessary!
To avoid the hassle and have a more enjoyable meal call the restaurant ahead of time. Even if they don’t accept reservations, it is always better for them to have a heads up that they will need to make accommodations.
- Tell them how many wheelchairs or walkers you will need a table for;
- the time you hope to arrive; and
- Request a table in the front of the restaurant, (which is also often conveniently located closest to the restroom!).
Even if they don’t accept reservations when they know you are coming it is easier for them to make the proper accommodations.
2.) Surfin at the Beach? Don’t forget the Beach wheelchairs!
Beach wheelchairs are the best! The wheels glide over the sand and even give a (relatively) smooth ride on the boardwalk. Most beaches offer wheelchairs on a first come first serve basis, just ask the lifeguard on duty and they will be able to help. If you plan to go on a busier weekend or the peak of the season, it may be beneficial to call ahead.
It could be the hottest day of the year but still, bring a sweater! The Ocean breeze feels like a dream to us, but to our loved ones it can cause quite a chill. And if they get too warm you can always take it off just be sure they are protected with high proof sunscreen!
As we get older, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive, which means it is critical to protecting. Sunburn can have far worst immediate ramifications for our loved ones than it has on us. As well, many of the medications older adults take can cause serious complication while coupled with sun exposure. Check out Gerontology expert Leacey E. Brown’s article for a list of medicines here.
4.) Respite Care is not a bad word!
There is often a substantial feeling a guilt caregivers feel when they need a break from their caregiving duties. However, it is near impossible to provide proper care when we aren’t taking care of ourselves. And burn out is high particularly for family caregivers. Acknowledging that you need a break from your caregiving duties is the best thing you can do for both yourself and your loved one. Heck! They probably could use a break from you, too!
Respite care is short-term living care for seniors typically in an assisted living or memory care unit. Rather than moving into a room, your loved one will rent a room for a few weeks, and the staff takes over your duties while you take some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
If you still don’t feel comfortable with the idea AARP has a few great tips for making this an easier and healthy decision for you and your loved one:
- Involve your loved one. When planning for time off from your caregiving duties, make sure to keep your loved one in the loop.
- Assess your needs. Make a list of what care will be required in your absence. Also, decide if the respite care provider will need any special skills or training to be able to stay with your parent.
5.) Taking a road trip?
A long haul in a car can be tough on anyone. A road trip is an exciting venture at the start, but somewhere between rest stop number one and lunch, the excitement can quickly wear off.
These types of trips can be particularly tiresome for our loved ones, and in such close quarters, the chances of they become agitated are pretty high.
So before you hit the road be sure you have these essentials on hand:
A sing-along mix of their favorites songs. Although this can be fun throughout the duration, it is a great tool for when they are beginning to feel anxious. Music is soothing and with so many strange sights whizzing by the familiar tunes will help make them feel at ease.
Bring snacks. Snacks are a staple ingredient to any good road trip but are essential to bring for our loved ones. Hunger can turn even the most pleasant of moods, so having a quick pick me up on hand can calm agitation before it begins.
Think comfort. Make sure they are dressed in comfortable clothes that won’t feel too tight when they sit down. Especially if they are wearing briefs, it is important that they have room to adjust in their seat if they should need.
Also, plan to make more stops. Making sure your loved one is able to stretch their legs will keep them from being too tired to walk or transfer when you reach your destination.
Enjoy every moment!
A caregiver cannot provide proper care if they don’t take care of themselves first. Caring for a loved one is the hardest job there is, and for many of you, it is only part of your daily responsibilities. So, whether you vacation with your loved one or not take this time to slow down and enjoy the moments to relax and for once put yourself first. Because you deserve it!!