Traveling with a Loved One Who Has Dementia – Family Caregiver Tip

Caregiving for a person with dementia can be difficult at times, especially as the disease progresses.

Yes, helping meet their needs takes a lot of effort, but being there watching what your loved one goes through is heartbreaking.

Being able to spend time with family is important, not only for the person with dementia but also their family caregivers.

Caregivers need to stay connected, get support, and share their emotions with those that love them and visiting during the holidays is a great way for this to occur.

However, many family caregivers fear traveling with loved ones with dementia because of the unknowns they may encounter.

How will they respond?

What happens if they exhibit behaviors in public?

How can you handle situations that might occur without the safety net of home?

A little planning will help make your holiday trip less stressful and more enjoyable!

Tips for Traveling

Here are a few activities that you can do to plan ahead for a smoother and safer trip:

  1. Be aware of the needs of your senior. As the disease progresses, their needs will change. Early on they may love to travel but in the later stages they may fear it or be overwhelmed.
  2. Have a good idea what you may face and plan accordingly. Don’t try it if you feel your senior will be disoriented or out of control since neither one of you will enjoy it. In that case, seek respite care for your senior and travel yourself.
  3. Stay alert to the warning signs of anxiety during the trip and be ready to change plans as needed.
  4. Alert the family of what to expect and how best to approach your senior. They may not have seen them lately and are unaware of changes. Tell them your senior’s schedule and stick to it as closely as possible. Tell them about the food they enjoy so it can be available.
  5. If your senior may wander during the trip, take necessary precautions such as getting a medical bracelet or GPS shoes so if they leave your view you will be able to find them quickly.
  6. Keep the trip short and the stops brief. Allow adequate rest periods and keep the crowds down to avoid confusion and agitation. Visit with a few people at a time, not the entire family at once.
  7. Keep their medications, snacks, important papers, phone contact information, ID, and other essentials with you at all times. Consider a backpack that is easy to carry.
  8. Pick a hotel that can accommodate any needs your senior may have. There are disability-friendly hotels and modifications available.
  9. Travel at the time of day that best suits your senior. If they nap in afternoon, perhaps driving then will be good for you both so they can nap and not interfere with your attention to driving.

Additional Resources

Here are a few articles that you might enjoy about traveling with seniors and dealing with dementia.