By Beth Dow, Solutions by Beth

The summer months bring with them family reunions, weddings and family vacations.

If you are a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, you may be trying to decide if you should go and take your loved one; go without your loved one; or just not go. As you consider your options, here is my input.

First and foremost on the decision whether you should go or not go, there is no decision to make. GO!

One of the biggest issues that caregivers have is isolation. They just stop going. I know, it is often harder to go than to stay. But for your own mental and physical health and to be able to continue this caregiving role for the long haul, you cannot stop going. It is not being selfish, unfair, or whatever argument you come up with as a justification. You continuing to live your life to its fullest is what is best for both you and your loved one.

Now, do you take your loved one or not? You must first stop thinking about what they used to love doing before the dementia. They are not the same person today. Reunions were a great chance to see family and reminisce about old times. Now for them, it becomes a place with strangers in a strange place with activity and noise they don’t understand. It can be a frightening environment.

You might say, well dad would never forgive me if he knew he missed his grandson’s wedding. But, will your father remember the wedding or even understand why he is there?

I understand young people wanting their grandparents at their wedding. I understand distant family members wanting to see your loved one. But is attending that wedding or reunion what is best for your loved one with dementia? Most often, it is not.

People with dementia struggle with brain failure before their bodies fail. So using their physical abilities as a measuring stick to decide if a trip should or shouldn’t be taken is not valid.

The questions you need to ask are: Will my love one feel safe in a different environment with a different schedule? Will my loved one understand the event and recognize the people who are present? Is traveling with my loved one difficult and stress inducing for us both?

If you have decided that the best option is for your loved one to stay at home, there may be friends or family members that will help.

If not, there are home-care agencies that can provide services while you are gone. Your loved one will get to keep their routine in familiar surroundings and you will come back home, refreshed and better able care for your loved one.