Living with dementia does not mean giving up any notion of travel or having fun on a holiday. Everyone deserves the occasional escape to experience new sides to life and take a break from their daily routine. However, in order to have the best possible chance of a relaxing and enjoyable trip, it’s important to do your research thoroughly, prepare as best you can and choose the right holiday destination and accommodation for your needs.
It used to be commonly thought that dementia was a natural part of the ageing process, but this is certainly not the case. Whilst it’s true that the condition manifests frequently in the older generation, over 40,000 people under the age of 65 in the UK also have dementia. There are several different versions of the disease and dementia can bring a variety of symptoms other than memory loss to the surface, from difficulties concentrating and issues with communication, to problems judging distances and difficulties controlling emotions.
However, with the right research and planning, there’s no reason why those living with dementia can’t continue to travel for as long as they feel happy to do so.
It’s likely you will be travelling with a companion or carer, so be sure to communicate openly and discuss the potential difficulties as well as the types of holiday that might be suitable for you both so that the trip runs as smoothly as possible.
If taking responsibility for organising a holiday seems like a daunting task, there are several reputable specialist organisations that can shoulder that burden for you. Ensure that you make a note of all your needs and requirements in writing so that there is a clear record of what you expect. It will make the travel agency’s job easier and put your mind at ease.
Of course, some people may prefer to travel independently. This option will offer more choice and flexibility but you will need to take extra care when arranging transport and accommodation to make sure all parties are aware of and able to meet your needs. Choose places to stay with friendly, supportive and experienced staff that will be ready and able to lend a helping hand if you have any difficulties.
Make it your business to find out as much as possible about your destination of choice so you can plan how you will get around and what you want to see and do. Just remember to be as open as possible about any potential difficulties - hiding problems will just make your life more difficult and put more pressure on your trip.
There’s no doubt about it - the journey can potentially be a stressful time for those with dementia. After all, airports, railway stations and ferry ports can be confusing places. Whether you’re hoping to travel independently, with a friend or with a carer, it’s important to call ahead to the airport and the airline to find out what sort of support you can expect. You may be able to skip the hectic queues around security and receive assistance with navigating the airport. Additionally, coach companies like National Express offer special assistance to passengers with additional needs, as do rail companies here in the UK and the Eurostar.
Whichever way you choose to travel, it’s a good idea to pack plenty of snacks as well as a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs to minimise stress and act as distractions.
Some people find it helpful to make two copies of passport details, leaving one at home with a friend and carrying the other copy along on your journey, just in case it gets misplaced. In fact, any important documents, prescriptions and phone numbers should be copied down and stored in different places.
Finally, just in case your luggage is delayed, ensure that your carry-on bag is strategically packed with everything you might need for the first few days of your trip. This should reduce the risk of stress and confusion.
Mind For You, Disabled Holidays Abroad and Can Be Done are all established travel companies specialising in holidays for people with disabilities and dementia, both at home and abroad. Additionally, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, explore the options available at Dementia Adventure where you will find canal boat cruises, walking holidays and sailing holidays at affordable prices.
It can be a challenge to find travel insurance which provides cover for those with pre-existing medical conditions, but it’s important to protect yourself against any accident or misfortune which could occur on your trip. Medical Travel Compared provide access to a wide range of specialist insurance providers - some of whom can insure you if you’re travelling with dementia. Enter your details and begin your search today.