Traveling While Caregiving
Since Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, I’ve tried to stay pretty close to home. Yet at times, travel opportunities – both professional and personal – beckon, and I need to get away. So what are some tips for taking a trip that is stress-free for you (the traveler), and for your loved one, who remains behind in the retirement community?
I asked Charlotte, who I met in Dallas on a professional trip, how she handles traveling now that her husband (who has Alzheimer’s Disease) is in an assisted living center. She said that after he moved to the center, she had the opportunity to travel internationally. Prior to leaving, she wrote a number of notes to him. She put the notes in separate envelopes addressed to him, and gave the envelopes to the staff to deliver to her husband while she was away. This simple and easy touch let her husband know that Charlotte was thinking about him while she wasn’t in the country.
In my situation, my mom’s health issues tend to be compounded due to her bad lungs. I am always in fear that she’ll end up in the emergency room while I’m several hours away. When I know that I am going to be out of town for long stretches of time, I ask my friends if they will be part of the “Mom Brigade.” That means that they are willing for me to share their contact information (work phone numbers, cell phone numbers, etc.) with the nursing home staff and agree to be on-call if Mom has sudden health issues that require a trip to the emergency room. Thus far, Mom has not had any medical crises while I’ve been out of town. Still, knowing that caring people are willing to sit with Mom at the emergency room until I can get back eases the stress I feel about leaving town.
Traveling should be an opportunity to get a break from the stress of caregiving. Putting systems of communication in place prior to leaving for your destination is critical in order to give you and your loved one peace of mind.
Published On: August 17, 2006