Summer vacations are time-honored tradition for many families. When a family member has early-stage dementia, travel may still be possible. However, it is important to take precautions to make sure the trip doesn’t become overwhelming.
Stick With the Routine
When organizing travel for someone with Alzheimer’s, plan the trip around what will be easiest on them. Travel around the times when the loved one is most alert and try to plan trips to places that they have visited before. Keep meals on a regular schedule and plan ahead to have the foods that this loved one enjoys available.
Most importantly, plan plenty of time for rest. Changes in the routine can be exhausting for someone with dementia.
What to Bring
As you plan for your trip, put together a bag of essentials for your loved one with dementia. This should include medication, a change of clothes, water, snacks and activities like puzzle books that can be used in a car or plane.
Keep a list of medical information, emergency contacts and photocopies of important legal documents with you at all times.
Air Travel with Dementia
Airports can be crowded and overwhelming for someone planning to travel with Alzheimer’s disease. Stay with your loved one at all times and plan extra time to go through security and get to your gate.
Explain to airport staff that additional assistance may be needed with boarding. If you contact the airline at least 48 hours in advance, they will be happy to arrange for a wheelchair to assist you in getting you to your connecting flight or between the gate and baggage claim.
Wandering While Traveling
Even if your loved one has never wandered from home, they may feel disoriented in a new place and try to leave. If you are staying with friends or family in a hotel, make everyone aware of the loved one’s needs in advance so that everyone is prepared.
Consider enrolling in the MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® program for peace of mind. They offer an ID bracelet or pendant that dementia patients can wear that include a 24-hour emergency toll-free number.
Try to remain positive and flexible when planning travel for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Many times there will be delays and unexpected challenges. Be aware that as your loved one’s dementia progresses, there will come a time when travel will become too disorienting.