Dementia Friends Champion Helen Morris offers some thoughts on people living with dementia on holiday
I AM writing this on the last day of my fantastic 60th birthday holiday in the sun, surrounded by beautiful gardens with the sound of the waves and bird calls.
So, I have been considering how you can create a wonderful holiday experience for a person living with dementia as their carer.
If you have a good routine with daily tasks then you know change and new environments can be very challenging for someone who may have periods of confusion in familiar surroundings, making them panic.
But equally it’s important they can still thrill to the feel of a speed boat racing over water, the sight of a sunset over the sea or whatever ‘floats their boat’.
So, how do you achieve a stimulating and joyful experience with the minimum amount of stress?
In the book ‘Words for a Journey’ by T Iba & M. Okada, they found you need both good routines and planned special occasions to stimulate and enthuse people living with dementia.
You could start by including the person with dementia in all the planning. Create a book of ideas with pictures of some of your favourite holiday places. Better still if there is somewhere you have been to many times so you can anticipate your favourite haunts.
Think about the journey there, building in reassuring periods of calm for a cuppa or bite to eat. Have everything to hand so there are no panics and upsets. Prepare for unexpected changes in transport so there is something reassuring and routine to do if delays happen.
You could pack some familiar objects to make your room more reassuring on wakening and try to continue some elements of your routines. Care UK’s ‘Good to Go’ has more useful ideas.
And don’t forget that speed boat ride. Having dementia should not stop you from having a blast!
If you want to consider a specially supported holiday then check out Dementia Adventure: 01245 237548.
They specialise in providing short breaks for people living with dementia and their carers which include optional activities. They do all the planning, leaving you both free to enjoy yourself and all those great sensations. Other companies worth consulting are Revitalise and Tourism for all.
Call Helen Morris, Dementia Friends Champion, to run a session for your group: 07976 702171.