Dementia and Travel

5 Ways to Make Travel Less Stressful for Someone With Early Memory Loss
motherdaughter10

Vacations are often a time when the earliest symptoms of dementia become more obvious. The reason: The onset of dementia is so gradual that the person ordinarily simply compensates for difficulties. For example, he or she retires when work becomes too challenging or it takes extra time to do a task properly. But when traveling, the usual moorings of routine and habit are disrupted.

Everything's new, which exacerbates disorientation. That's not to say someone with early memory loss can't still enjoy travel. They can! Here are five tips that help:

1. Plan your destination with care. The best trips now tend to involve either minimal changes of itinerary or a return to familiar places.

2. Share the planning details. If the person with memory loss has always been the planner, you may notice less interest in tracking the details. It's harder to make judgments and follow through on multiple-step processes. So someone else should help make and then double-check all reservations. The person with memory loss shouldn't carry key documents, to prevent their being mislaid.

3. Start early. People with dementia tend to function best early in the day (although not so early that it's disorienting). Schedule mid- to late-morning departures.

SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

4. Take extra time. Allow for possible disorientation. Give yourself plenty of time at airports to go through security, for example. Even on car trips, build in rest stops that can be unhurried.

5. Stick together. Don't assume that just because your loved one has taken a particular walk every year, or has been to the same café before, he or she can continue to do so solo. It's probably not even a good idea to leave someone with mild dementia alone in a hotel room or in a seat at the airport. If your companion is of a different gender, wait outside an airport restroom so you're immediately visible when he or she exits.


over 2 years ago, said...

The last time we visited my daughter and family, what really helped my husband was that we had the whole basement to ourselves, sleeping area, bathroom, sitting area with TV. He was more agreeable to make another visit, when I described how comfortable it was the last time. The host family was also very relaxed and non-pressuring. He did become confused going through the security, forgetting to put back his shoes on. One can't take anything for granted and keep watchful eye as an affected person will not remember to follow past or expected routines.


over 2 years ago, said...

We're planning a long trip and your remarks were very helpful. Thank you.


almost 4 years ago, said...

This article is OK as far as it goes, but it leaves out several helpful hints such as the following: -Try to see if the rest stop has a special handicapped rest room and use that. The individual with dementia may have difficulty remembering why they entered the rest room or they may have trouble finding their way out -If the person is at a point where they may become agitated during the trip, ask your doctor about a prescription for medication that will help keep the person calm-Don't be afraid to ask for help from others if your loved one has a problem and you need help with it.


almost 4 years ago, said...

this so describes my husband....I am trying so hard to be supportive, and care for him. He realizes he losing his short term memories...


almost 4 years ago, said...

Yeah, but what about when the caregiver needs to use the restroom when traveling with a different sex partner? I'm so anxious in the toilet, I can't hardly go and then come out and sure enough he's wandering.


about 4 years ago, said...

Just good reminders. Easy to assume and make things more difficult.


almost 5 years ago, said...

very useful tip-thank you for kind sharing.god bless.have a happy good weekend!


almost 5 years ago, said...

This article was helpful because my mother, grandmother, and I take trips every once in awhile. And I will keep these tips in mind next time we go on a trip. I believe my grandmother to be in the early stages of dementia. She forgets things that are important and that she always used to remember (she'll leave her purse sitting outside and then can't find it). And she often lives in the past and recollects childhood memories. One time we went on a trip a little over a year ago and she broke down and started crying. She was upset and irritated and confused. We knew then that she was starting to go. Because usually she's very calm and easy going. We had never been to that cabin and place before so now after reading this I believe that because it was unfamiliar she was confused


almost 5 years ago, said...

This article provided more understanding of the confusion and agitation resulting from strange surroundings or just being away from home. I have noticed my husband gets agitated and wants to go home right away even befor the scheduled return home.


about 5 years ago, said...

Learning to take more time for response ----


about 5 years ago, said...

very helpful


about 5 years ago, said...

It helps to be aware of the unforseen...the part about early morning is interesting


about 5 years ago, said...

My parents moved with us to PA from NJ. When we started to go back for visits and stay with family, my dad (mild dementia) was terribly disoriented for hours or the first 2 days. We didn't realize then what he was dealing with. He's much more used to it now. The routine where we stay in NJ is always the same. We set up his diabetic supplies and meds the same way he reaches for everything at home. Every little bit helps. The article made me realize we are on the right track. And excellent point about leaving mid to late a.m., or even early afternoon; my dad is hugely disoriented upon returning home whenever we have arrived home late at night. I don't recommend late night arrivals at all.


about 5 years ago, said...

I HAVE SEEN A PROBLEM AND AS YET HAVEN'T TALKED TO A DR. I HAVE BEEN AN CNA FOR YEARS , AND I KNOW A PROBLEM IS COMING. YOUR WORDS OF ADVICE ARE SO HELPFUL. JUST KNOWING I'M NOT ALONE.


about 5 years ago, said...

thanks for these timely reminders! help is appreciated


about 5 years ago, said...

Hi squirrels nest, Thank you very much for taking the time to share such positive feedback! We're thrilled to hear that you've found Caring.com helpful -- it's wonderful to know that the work we're doing is making a difference. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


about 5 years ago, said...

neither did I and we are planning a three day car tour of N.Ontario this Sept. our first in ten years to get away after moving to a new apt. in Aug. Thank you for sending me this article as it,s made me aware of things to consider while making plans that never crossed my mind. I thought a short getaway would help ease his transition to our new home and the disruption of his routine with the packing etc that,s necessary with a move. I still think it,s a good idea but now I,ll look at the details in a new light. Your emails have been right on target a number of times and you,ve managed to do it again. I felt I was alone in all this until I stumbled across your website (with Angelic help no doubt) and discovered a wonderful community of caring people that shared my experience and I could be with them for support 24/7, to give as well as receive, the community never closes. Thank you


over 5 years ago, said...

@Lillypod A great place to get questions answered by experts and other caregivers is Ask & Answer: http://www.caring.com/ask. You may also find some additional suggestions from caregivers participating in Stage Groups (http://www.caring.com/steps-stages/alzheimers) or the Alzheimer's forum (http://www.caring.com/forums/alzheimers-forum).


over 5 years ago, said...

My husband is in the mild/moderate stage of Alzheimers, and we are planning a vacation, which we haven't done in a few years. He wants to go but seems upset because of the 8 hour bus ride, as when he becomes restless, he has to walk. I'm beginning to get the feeling he will want to cancel. Any suggestions on how to keep him interested.


over 5 years ago, said...

I would like to take my mom on some trips. The suggestions will help me. Thanks!


over 5 years ago, said...

I hadn't thought about a trip being a problem even with mild dementia. I hadn't thought about what might happen if we were out of the normal, every day routine.