London Heathrow earlier this fall became the World’s first Dementia Friendly Airport. This is obviously an airport that cares about their travelers!
Our memories shape so much of who we are, but what happens when a person starts forgetting? This forgetting of ourselves through the loss of our core memories and knowledge is called dementia.
Symptoms of Dementia, include memory loss, problem-solving, confusion, and communication difficulties that lead to serious stress for everyone involved while at an airport.
CTV News reported “76,000 staff members working at Heathrow Airport will be trained on how to support these fliers — most notably security staff,” to better manage the needs of dementia travelers.
What it’s like to travel with Dementia.
Without a Dementia friendly airport, traveling with Dementia can be a confusing experience. Imagine walking through a place that’s completely unfamiliar to you. One wrong turn and someone with Dementia gets separated from whoever they’re with. Changes in the environment can trigger wandering. Confusion transforms into fear and with that fear, a person with Dementia becomes stressed and anxious.
Traveling is stressful for anyone, but having Dementia paired with traveling adds an entirely new variable to the mix. Traveling in airports requires focus and attention. The high level of activity at an airport can be distracting, overwhelming or difficult to understand for someone with dementia.
Flying stresses Dementia caregivers too
Caregivers should assess themselves to make sure that they are prepared to travel with someone with dementia. While traveling, caregivers will need to manage unexpected events and challenging behaviors, in a busy airport. They may face many stressful situations typical of airport travel together while traveling with someone with dementia.
Caregivers may have to encounter airport staff unfamiliar with the symptoms of dementia. This lack of knowledge can result in aggressive behavior and rudeness.
Having a Dementia friendly airport can help caregivers too. Those caring for Dementia sufferers may get frustrated while navigating a busy airport.
Dementia Friendly Airport – Why Is It Important?
We have a passion for bringing issues related to wellness traveling to the light. With that being said, we’re excited to see how properly trained airport staff can help ease the traveling experience of someone who has Dementia.
It’s important to lessen the negative impact of travel and help affected passengers find calm. These emotions include but are not limited to fear, fright, nervousness, anxiety, and a loss of control.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, over 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia. It makes sense as to why having a dementia-friendly airport at Heathrow is so important. But will this concept soon fly in other airports?