Traveling with Dementia

This is the time of year when people start thinking summer vacation. Whether you’re planning a short trip to see friends and family, or traveling farther for a longer escape, there are a number of things to consider if you are traveling with a loved one with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association offers the following advice for planning a trip to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone.

Deciding to travel. What is the best mode of travel for someone with dementia? Consider the following:

  • Go with the option that provides the most comfort and the least anxiety.
  • Stick with the familiar. Travel to known destinations that involve as few changes in daily routine as possible. Try to visit places that were familiar before the onset of dementia.

Travel tips. If you will be at a location for an extended period of time, consider contacting the local Alzheimer’s Association for resources and support. Find a chapter here. Other tips include:

  • Have a bag of essentials with you at all times with your travel itinerary, a comfortable change of clothes for your loved one, water, snacks and activities.
  • Pack necessary medications, up-to-date medical information, a list of emergency contacts and photocopies of important legal documents.
  • If you will be staying in a hotel, inform the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you.
  • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person with dementia.

Air travel. If you are traveling by plane, keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid scheduling flights that require tight connections. Ask about airport escort services that can help you get from place to place.
  • Inform the airline and airport medical service department ahead of time of your needs to make sure they can help you. Most airlines will work with you to accommodate special needs.
  • If appropriate, tell airport employees, screeners and in-flight crew members that you are traveling with someone who has dementia.
  • Even if walking is not difficult, consider requesting a wheelchair so that an airport employee is assigned to help you get from place to place.
  • Allow for extra time.

Keep in mind that there may come a time when traveling is too disorienting or stressful for the person with dementia. But if you can make it work right now, the opportunity will be wonderful for both you and your loved one. 

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