The American Auto­mobile Association (AAA) estimates more than 55 million Americans will hit the road this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is providing tips for families traveling with someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness.

“A family trip to visit a loved one, friend, or favorite destination can be a great way to spend Thanksgiving, including for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President & CEO. “Whether traveling near or far, there are preparations and adaptations family caregivers can make to help their loved one feel more comfortable and relaxed throughout the trip.”

In a press release, AFA offered the following travel tips for caregivers of travelers with dementia:

• Advise airlines and hotels that you’re traveling with someone who has memory impairment and inform them of safety concerns and special needs.

• Inquire in advance with airports/train stations about security screening procedures — familiarize the person beforehand about what will happen at the checkpoint to reduce potential anxiety.

• Plan the trip to cause the least amount of anxiety and stress — if they travel better at a specific time of day, consider planning accordingly.

• Preserve the person’s routine as best as possible, including eating and sleeping schedules.

• Take regular breaks on road trips for food, bathroom visits or rest.

• Bring snacks, water, activities and other comfort items.

• Consider utilizing an identification bracelet and clothing tags with your loved one’s full name and yours to ensure safety.

• Take important health and legal-related documentation, a list of current medications, and physician information with you.

• Depending on the trip duration and/or the stage of the person’s illness, consult with their physician to make sure travel is advisable.

Families with questions about traveling with someone who has a dementia-related illness can speak with a licensed social worker by calling AFA’s Helpline at (866) 232-8484 or visiting www.alzfdn.org. The helpline is open seven days a week.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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