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Dementia doesn't mean death of holidays

Press AssociationPress Association 21/07/2016 Kate Whiting

Holidays can revive the body and soul, and even a few days away from the stresses, demands and humdrum of daily life can work wonders.

More than 353,800 Australian families are living with dementia - associated with progressive memory loss, difficulty with thinking and language and carrying out everyday tasks. Alzheimer's Australia expects that number to increase 400,000 in less than five years.

Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050.

Although getting away on holiday might be more difficult when a family member or loved one has the condition, the charity Dementia UK has outlined some simple steps to make travelling with people with dementia go more smoothly.

1. Make sure you have medical insurance and take all of the documentation with you in case of a medical emergency. Prior to going on holiday, do some research so you know where the local doctors' surgeries and hospitals are located.

2. Ensure the person with dementia has ID and emergency contact details on them at all times. If they get lost, it will be easier for someone to get in contact with you. Potentially, consider a personal GPS that the person with dementia can wear.

3. Orientation is a challenge for someone living with dementia and being in an unfamiliar location could cause disorientation. Give the person with dementia a plan of the building and also walk them around the building you are staying in when you first arrive. Print out some signage that you can put up around your accommodation, like toilet/ bathroom, bedroom, kitchen etc.

4. Plan your activities for the morning as the person with dementia is likely to get tired as the day progresses and tiredness can cause disorientation. Also, don't plan too many activities as this can cause tiredness and exhaustion, leading to disorientation and potentially agitation.

5. Portable low-level lights, that are easy to pack, will help during the night, should the person with dementia wake up and become disorientated by where they are staying. You can also get apps on your phone which provide night light.

6. Keep an eye on the person with dementia for signs of distress and anxiety. They may be feeling it, but not telling you as they don't want to ruin your holiday.

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