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Can we travel with parents with dementia?

6 answers | Last updated: Dec 10, 2014
A fellow caregiver asked...

We'd like to take my parents to Hawaii, their favorite place in the whole world, one last time. They live in an assisted living facility, both have dementia, but they currently go out unescorted for walks. They are registered with Safe Return and we would bring a baby monitor. Can they stay in a condo adjacent to mine? Any advice or recommendations?


Paula Spencer Scott, contributing editor, is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's. A Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, she writes extensively about health...
100% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

The answer is...maybe. Traveling with someone who has dementia requires being aware of many different factors. You've already thought about wandering, for example, which is wise. The biggest factor is See also:
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your parents' condition. They may do all right with care and supervision, especially if they function relatively independently now. However, travel -- especially long distances and by air -- can be a major stressor, and stress can worsen dementia. One or both of your parents may become confused, upset, or show more memory loss than previously. If you do go, be sure to have seats together on the plane and remain with your parents constantly. A separate hotel room is probably not the safest idea; a suite with only one door is ideal. Another consideration is your parents' reaction to such a trip: Do they seem genuinely excited? If they can't remember plans for such a vacation from visit to visit, it may be simpler to spend lower-key time closer to home with them. You have to weigh your expectations and memories for this kind of family trip with where they are now and how they might respond to it.


More Answers
67% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

Think about the comfort level of two sets of people - your family and your parents. Talk to them. Do they sound enthusiastic about the trip? Are they comfortable with staying in a new place? How nervous are you for their well-being and safety? If everyone seems onboard, go for it! One suggestion I have is to explore lodging options. Perhaps instead of staying in separate condos, get one big enough for everyone so that you'd be likely to hear them if there was a problem. Another option is staying in a hotel suite. The pricing may be comparable to renting two separate condos, yet offer a better opportunity for support and supervision without compromising too much privacy.


100% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

We took my mom in a wheelchair with many needs on multiple trips. She had dementia and depression. I took an aide with me to help with care so I could enjoy my time too. It was wonderful and I have many memories and pictures that make me smile today. She passed this July and I have no regrets with taking her on a cruise, to Disney and Miami Beach. A place she loved. They do not know the whole time, but the moments they do, you will cherish forever. My husband was a critic until he went with us. I couldn't leave him home after the first trip he took with us. Mother would smile. If you would like more information I would be glad to offer more. Do it! Just take someone for help. You will all enjoy it like you want.


100% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

My husband, 83, was diagnosed with Alz 7 years ago and is at stage 5. Still walking, talking, feeding himself with help. We, 3 generation family, take short trips of 1-6 days and take him along. It's stimulating and good for him. We have help to bring along which relieves me. I do all the things I do at home: set up flashlites to light the way to the bathroom, keep bathroom light on, block doors with furniture, have the help sleep on the way to the outside door. We stay in suites or condos all together. Finding food he can or will eat can be a problem. We carry some food like bananas, peanut butter, bread, cookies, hot chocolate powder with us. I suggest you try some short trips first and see how they work. Good luck and God Bless! Piver


A fellow caregiver answered...

With input from my SO's doctors I put off traveling. The simple reason is he could become disoriented which would probably cause him to become agitated. Another reason is the safety factor. It is obvious to most people that my SO has problems, and I am very afraid of being taken advantage of in any way. We do maintain a social life by going out to dinner or lunch. He is very happy with that. My goal is to keep him happy and to protect him. We had a great life together for over 20 years.


A fellow caregiver answered...

Last October we took my mom to Cabo San Lucas for our son's wedding. She has mild + dementia. We are so glad we did but we couldn't have done it without having my sister there, staying with her 90% of the time. My mom did find her way around the hotel ok after several tries. It was difficult on her, she was constantly looking for her airline tickets and passport as well as her other belongings spending way too much time in her room. When they are not in their regular element they get very confused and worried they won't remember where things are. You can do it, but only with 1 or 2 caregivers that can help the 2 of them. My mom is so glad she went. She doesn't remember everything but she was there in body, mind and spirit. Our son and his bride were so glad to have her there, that was the best present of all.