If your parent is living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, you might think that travel is off the table. In fact, not only can people who have dementia travel, but trips can also help them stay stimulated and reconnect them with loved ones in distant locations.
Nonetheless, traveling with a parent who has dementia does create some unique risks and challenges. By following these tips, you can prepare for those challenges and make sure you both have a safe, happy and enjoyable trip.
Step 1: Assess their ability to travel
Whether and how your parent can travel will depend on the specific form of dementia they have, as well as the severity of the condition. If they are still in the early stages of dementia and are responding well to memory care, they’ll likely still be able to travel to a wide range of locations. If they are living with a severe form of cognitive loss, their ability to travel is limited. Consult with your parent’s doctor and care providers before taking them on a trip, and make sure they’re on board with your plan. As much as is possible, include your parent in the planning.
Step 2: Keep it short and simple
When flying, look for a nonstop flight. Connecting flights tend to create problems, both because they make the trip more complicated and because they raise the risk that you’ll be delayed or miss a plane.
There’s no way to avoid delays entirely, but you can make them less likely by traveling at strategic times. People with dementia often experience sundowner’s syndrome or a marked increase in anxiety, confusion, and aggression after the sun sets so whenever possible, travel during the daytime.
Step 3: Stock up
Before heading out on your trip, stock up on everything your parent will need on the way. Bring any essential medications and equipment in large enough quantities to get your parent through the trip. Bringing clothes blankets, books, and other items that they will recognize may also make traveling easier.