Is Using This Safe For Someone With Dementia?

Hey there Careblazer. Today I want to talk about traveling with your LOWD. Under regular circumstances traveling can be stressful and require a lot of planning. Many people worry about being in a public place and how their LOWD might react. Last week (or whenever the other one is done), I gave you my top 5 tips for traveling with your LOWD. Today, I want to talk about a potential resource to explore when traveling. It can be controversial for some but is worth considering if it may be right for you. 


If you would rather watch a video on this topic, click here.


So as I mentioned this idea is somewhat controversial but you can consider using the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard. Today I want to review with you what the Sunflower Lanyard is, why some people consider it controversial, and how it could potentially be helpful for you and your LOWD. 


The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard is very much like it sounds. It is a green lanyard with yellow sunflowers on it. The purpose of this lanyard is to help identify staff and other trained individuals at places like airports, railways, and even some small and large businesses, identify when there is a customer who has a disability that cannot be seen simply by looking at them. This includes disabilities like autism and dementia among others. 


So why might someone with dementia, or you as their caregiver, choose to wear a sunflower lanyard? While the lanyard does not allow you to bypass any lines or allow you to circumvent procedures, it does alert trained staff that the person wearing it may be in need of extra time, more empathy or understanding, additional help, or different methods of interaction. In many airports it may allow for you to board early to ensure you are well settled.


The sunflower lanyard was first implemented in 2016 and has been adopted by various facilities around the world. It originated in London but has made it to the United States and is now in many airports. 


So this all sounds like a good thing, right? Extra support and understanding from others? So why might this be considered controversial? 


Some people have raised concerns that this might put an individual with dementia or a hidden disability at risk for being targeted for exploitation. By wearing the lanyard, they could be identifying themselves as vulnerable. While this may be accurate, in most cases, your LOWD with be traveling with you and the lanyard could be removed when you are not inside of areas where it is recognized but it is still a risk to consider. 


Others have argued that by wearing the lanyard you may be revealing a diagnosis that you or your LOWD may not want revealed. The Alzehiemer’s society has recommended that, if your LOWD is able to, you engage in a conversation with your LOWD about if they want to be able to be identified in this way. 


Still others have argued that the lanyard is not a good idea overall as it does not teach people to treat customers as individuals and to meet them where they are at. In other words, people who are not wearing a lanyard may also be in need of extra help or support. 


So what do you think? Would this be a helpful resource for you and your LOWD? Would this potentially make traveling a little easier? One thing to know though, is that the use of the lanyard is still a growing idea. Not all airport and other public transit employees are trained in identifying these lanyards. If you do think it could be helpful for you, you may want to go to their website here, where you can search for “Sunflower Friendly Places” as this might also influence your decision to use or not to use the lanyard. 


One more thing to know Careblazer, these lanyards are free at the places of business where they are recognized. You can order them for very cheap online if you would prefer they be mailed to you; however, most places you can call ahead and pick up a lanyard when you arrive. 


I hope that was helpful Careblazer. Hope to see you next week. 




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