Fulfilling the Bucket List, Trip by Trip
Our friends Elizabeth and Charlie Miller are a constant source of inspiration. Here is one of the many ways they embrace life.
Elizabeth and Charlie knew they had to instantly work on their travel bucket list. When they met and fell in love, Charlie had been living with dementia for four years. He had not traveled much, but he wanted to see the world with Elizabeth. He asked a friend to help him plan a romantic trip to San Francisco, where he proposed to her.
After she said, “Yes,” they combined their love of beaches and nature and began adventuring, going on driving trips, taking cruises, and sharing a multitude of experiences. When flying grew too complicated and stressful for Charlie, they focused on local day trips or short driving trips.
“I used to have to travel alone,” Elizabeth says. “Now, I travel with Charlie. He enjoys the trip in-the-moment. How wonderful to have all these shared experiences. Plus, it’s renewing to be outside of our routine.”
Recently, Elizabeth and Charlie were driving around and Charlie said, “What was that long cruise last fall that had so many beautiful places?”
Elizabeth stopped to think. “Hawaii,” she said.
“Hawaii,” Charlie said, his eyes bright. “Wasn’t that the best cruise ever?”
Elizabeth smiled and felt a deep sense of happiness and connection. “You are right. It was the best cruise ever.”
To make every trip “the best” here are a few flying travel tips from Elizabeth:
- Try for a non-stop flight at a time best for the person living with dementia.
- Call TSA in advance and arrange for assistance in getting through screening.
- Ask for a Pre-boarding pass to minimize the stress in boarding.
- Get a business-type card that says, “Thank you for your patience with my companion. He is living with dementia.” Share this information, as needed.
- Carry a travel packet that includes a letter from an MD, stating that your companion has dementia, and a medical power of attorney. Include doctors’ names and contact information as well as emergency contact information.
- Carry a bag of essentials: water, snacks, medications, a change of clothing, and activities.
- Be flexible, in the flow, and have fun!
Nice piece, Deborah. Thanks for telling their story.
I really like this article. I will be sharing with my readers! You may also want to check out my book called Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide. I will have to put in an article on travelling in my next edition. Thanks!