When I became a caregiver I thought my traveling days were over. My husband and I had traveled extensively in the U.S. and we had planned to add even more adventures with the marriage of our youngest child. A short three years later and I felt as if I were waving goodbye to the best years of my life.
All of our plans vanished right before our very eyes. It was heartbreaking, at first. I was finally able to live my life as I chose after raising two kids for most of my adult life and it would be a lie to say I wasn’t devastated. My freedom had been snatched out of my hands like a three-year-old grabs for a new toy.
For three years, I grieved for my freedom, my dreams, and my youth just as much I did for my mom having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the first place. Pretty dramatic huh? It wasn’t until a recent trip to the Smoky Mountains, with mom in tow, did I realize how ludicrous my thinking had been.
My momma isn’t dead, she has Alzheimer’s disease and she has an adventurous spirit that shines through no matter what. Where do you think I got it from? When we took her to Tennessee she sat in the back seat, her head swiveling back and forth as if she were watching a Wimbledon tennis match. Her eyes glowing with an excitement I hadn’t seen since before her diagnosis.
Her excitement was contagious and before we knew it both my husband and I found ourselves looking at the same places we had been hundreds of times as if it were our first time as well. Still, I didn’t put it together. Not for another week or two when I asked her what she wanted for her 80th birthday. Her answer? “To go somewhere else I’ve never been before.”
That’s when the lightbulb finally went off. Why couldn’t we still travel? We just had to do things a little differently, but they could still be done. So we’re off, the three of us are heading out in September to show my mom some of this beautiful country. Things like the Golden Gate Bridge and Yosemite, Hollywood and Denver, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. We have a very long list.
Do I think it will be easy? Of course not, there isn’t anything about this disease that’s easy, but it can be done. With some proper planning and some great tips, like this article I found on SeniorAdvice.com called “Creating Unforgettable Adventures: Tips to Promote Safe and Exciting Trips For Seniors” I think we’ll be just fine.
We’re in the planning stages now and I’ve gotten online and ordered brochures from all of the places we’re going so that she can have something to see and feel. I’ve marked the dates in her calendar and we’ve hung up a map. I don’t expect miracles, but I know one thing, without a doubt. That each time she sees something new there will be a huge smile on her face and a light in her eyes that will make it all worth it.
Do you have any experience traveling with someone who has dementia? Tell my about it in the comments below.
*This has been a compensated post. The ideas and opinions are as always, my very own.