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Recently my husband and I entered a new season in our lives. We became caregivers to my now 92 year old mother-in-law, Dora. Dora has Alzheimer's and dementia, therefore she is unable to live by herself. I know that I should be saying what a difficult decision it was to take this on, but to be honest, it was a no brainer for us. You see Dora spent her entire life loving and caring for my husband, and now it was our turn to give back. One thing I have learned in this season of life is that traveling around for the holidays can be tricky.
Dora thrives on routine and familiarity. When things are off it really throws her for a loop. I imagine it is that way for most people who travel with seniors who have special needs, so with the holidays approaching I thought I would share my 5 tips for making travel and overnight stays a little easier on them and you.
- Prepare for the car ride.
Long journeys can be difficult on anyone, but especially on someone who has special needs. You first off need to plan on several stops. Dora frequently needs to stretch her legs and go to the restroom. Also, be sure to pack a little bag of things that will help entertain your loved one during the journey. This is my go-to list of items for Dora.
- Bottled Water because the climate in the car always dries her mouth out.
- Candy. For Dora that can be both hard candy and chocolate.
- A box of tissues.
- A word search book.
- Pictures of her loved ones.
These are all things that both entertain her and give her a sense of comfort.
2. Pack their blankets and pillows.
Whether you are staying in a hotel or with a family member, this is important. I know it may feel excessive, but remember I said Dora thrives on the familiar. Simply looking at specific bedding tells her that this is where she sleeps, this is where she belongs. Not only that, but the familiar smells will help her to relax and get a good night's sleep.
3. Pack Absorbency Underwear.
When your loved one is in a new place that is unfamiliar, finding the bathroom can be difficult. Many times they wake up confused and by the time they get their wits about them it is too late. I can’t imagine how embarrassing that would be for anyone. So we always head to our local Sam's Club and pick up an 88 ct pack of their Female Maximum Absorbency Underwear. These underwear help Dora to feel comfortable in any situation without worry.
I love the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark Female Maximum Absorbency Underwear because not only do they provide what I need at great prices, but they are also committed to a quality product that offers amazing protection while still paying attention to skin care.
4. Pack Night Lights:
Also easily found at Sam’s Club, nightlights are a MUST for any journey. For seniors trying to find their way around in a strange place, illumination can be so helpful. I always keep 4-5 of these on hand so that I can easily light up a bedroom, a path to the bathroom, or even a path to the kitchen. It really is a great help.
5. Pack Familiar Food.
This is not something I would have ever thought about before becoming a caregiver, but having familiar foods available for your loved ones is so important. No matter if it is because of a special diet, or simply because your loved one can only chew certain things easily, having the food that they are comfortable with will keep them from feeling left out of a family dinner or from feeling like an inconvenience.
Some of my best memories in life have been in the car, with my family, traveling. As the caregiver for my mother-in-law I want her to have the same experience. I want her to enjoy seeing new places, spending time with family, and living her life. If taking these 5 simple steps will help her achieve that, than it is all worth it. I hope you find these steps helpful in your holiday travels, and as always…
Happy Reading, Happy Eating, Happy Living,
~The Kitchen Wife!