When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, we often want to spend as much time with them as we can. A weekend away or a short holiday can sometimes be a great way to spend time with someone who has dementia, as well as providing a nice change of scenery and a chance to experience something new.
The reality, however, is that this can be a difficult process. Letting travel agents and accommodation staff know your loved one has dementia can be a stressful process, as well as finding activities you can both engage and participate in while away.
Fortunately, many travel agents in recent times have noticed the rise in people wishing to travel with those suffering from dementia, and as such have devised many specialised holidays specifically aimed at those with the condition.
One such example is UK-based company MindforYou, which offers specialised holidays for those with dementia and their carers as an alternative to traditional respite.
Most of the holiday packages last for 4 to 5 days and involve a variety of activities hosted by fully trained staff. In the past, these activities have included exploring National Trust country houses, pottery demonstrations and steam train rides.
Imogen Vignoles, 80, and her husband Michael, 87, who was diagnosed with dementia 10 years ago, have been on two MindforYou holidays in the past few years:
“It can be a very lonely existence, so company and the opportunity to discuss topics other than dementia is also very important. You come on a holiday quite tired, so the special times when staff take over and you know your other half is being looked after are wonderful,” said Imogen.
MindforYou was co-founded by Carol Sargent, who said she came up with the idea when she became frustrated at the lack of travel agents catering for those with dementia when her mother, Elizabeth, was admitted to respite care after having Alzheimer’s for nine years.
“My own situation taught me that you only truly understand the impact of dementia if you know the person,” said Carol.
“Before the holiday we visit each couple at home to get to know their special needs and expectations and their medical conditions. We match the guests to the properties.
“Once here, we give them the chance to make new friends, visit new places, recharge their batteries, renew their own relationships and generally have a lovely time.”
Cruises for those with dementia
But Carol is not the only person working to provide holidays to those with dementia. Others have set their sights on the ocean, as many travel agents now offer specialised dementia cruises.
One recently popular example is that of Alzheimer’s Speaks, an Australian based company that offers cruises specifically aimed at those with dementia and their carers.
Offering a number of destinations throughout the year, the cruise provides an opportunity to relax and relate to others with the condition, as well as provide fun activities mixed in with educational talks about dementia from healthcare professionals.
The idea is the brainchild of Alzheimer’s Speaks radio host Lori La Bey, who created the scheme after having a positive experience on a cruise with her family, which included her mother who had dementia at the time.
“Now to be able to offer a supportive atmosphere where others understand dementia and are in the trenches side by side with one another — well it’s just beyond words”, La Bey said.
Booking a dementia holiday
Here at Dementia Caring, we believe dementia holidays are a great way to spend time with your loved one and build some happy memories.
If you wish to book a dementia holiday, or simply wish to find out more, our team can help connect you with dementia travel agents who can assist you with all your needs. Contact us today for more information.