A holiday can be a great way to rest, recharge the batteries and have fun. Age and infirmity do not have to be a barrier to having a holiday, but it can take a little planning and preparation. As spring turns into summer, our thoughts start to turn to the holiday season. A vacation can be an escape from home pressures and an opportunity to relax, experience a new environment and hopefully enjoy some warmer weather. Everyone can benefit from a break, and elderly people suffering from disease, dementia or disabilities are no different. In fact, time away can be a real benefit to their health and wellbeing.
Why do holidays help?Very often the frail elderly can become bored and socially isolated. If their function and mobility are impaired they may struggle to get out and about, with days and weeks merging into each other. A holiday can be something to look forward to, a focus for their thoughts and plans. A change of scenery can be interesting and stimulating. They may be able to try novel food, make friends and try new things. As well as being enjoyable in the moment, a holiday can also provide a joyful memory. Even if dementia and forgetfulness are a problem, souvenirs, photos and music can still stimulate pleasant reminiscences.
Practical mattersBooking a holiday for an elderly person with disabilities is more complex than choosing a pretty place in a brochure. When planning a holiday for someone with additional practical or physical needs, there are a few extra things to consider:
Research and readingYou may need to hit Google, chat with friends and talk to your social worker or GP to find out the right place to visit. You’ll have to consider different things depending on your loved one’s individual needs. The Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Parkinson’s Disease Society, The Stroke Association and the Alzheimer’s Society offer lots of useful information and travel advice. Tourism for All can provide specific details about accessible places to stay and guidance for people with mobility or health issues. Think about whether you will be travelling with your loved one, and how you will manage. Even if you are holidaying together, to get a total break you’ll have to consider the question of care. Maybe you could book a home carer to travel with you, or think about booking with a specialist provider that offers holidays with care. If the individual is travelling alone, this can be a great way of offering them a break in a safe, supportive environment.
Caring holidaysSeveral charities and commercial organisations specialise in providing breaks for people with disabilities, dementia or mobility problems. From a helping hand to a customized care plan, they can tailor the support to your loved one individual needs.
Limitless Travel offer people living with disabilities the chance to explore the world, safe in the knowledge that their needs will be met. Their destinations are visited by members of the Limitless Travel team who have disabilities to ensure that they meet the needs of our customers, regardless of their personal challenges.
Tourism for All is a UK based charity that, as the name suggests, helps people with disabilities and their carers take a break. It offers information about holiday destinations in the UK and abroad.
Revitalise offers nurse-led care with real holiday experiences, welcoming disabled people, carers and volunteers. They provide trips that are designed for people with dementia, with a high level of care including around-the-clock nursing.
Mind for You offers supported holidays throughout the year for people living with dementia together with relatives or carers. They can tailor the experience, so that everyone can enjoy a proper break together, as an alternative to organising traditional respite care.
Dementia Adventure offers small group, supported holidays for people with dementia and their partners or carers. Everyone can enjoy walking, sailing and getting in touch with nature. They aim to help people with dementia retain their sense of adventure.
The opportunities are exciting, everyone can have a vacation, no matter what their physical or mental restrictions. By taking care and planning ahead, you can ensure your loved one has a happy, healthy and safe holiday. Bon voyage!