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Mom has mild dementia, can she still travel?

My son is getting married next month, he lives out of state and I'd like my mother to be there. She is in assisted living with mild dementia, is it safe for her to travel and how do I make this happen?
Status: Open    Feb 25, 2015 - 07:18 PM

Dementia, Other

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Expert Answers

Apr 07, 2015 - 11:45 AM

Family gatherings can be a wonderful way for seniors with mild dementia to re-connect with family members.

Here are some helpful tips for traveling with a parent or relative with dementia:

START SMALL - Travel through noisy busy airports can be very confusing and a source of anxiety to your parent with dementia. Try a short road trip first to see how your mother fares.

BE PREPARED - Make sure to organize and pack sufficient medication and supplies such as incontinence briefs for the duration of the trip. Bring extra in case of delays.

GIVE STANDBY SUPPORT - Be at your mother's arm to reassure and gently prompt her regarding places or family members, if she may not remember. "Oh Mom, look here, isn't it amazing how good your cousin Patricia looks."

HAVE A CONTINGENCY PLAN - Be prepared in the event that your mother feels that this is all just too much for her. She may be fine at the wedding, but not at the reception with loud music and commotion. Consider having a caregiver such as a family friend on call to spend time with her quietly at home or in the hotel just in case. This way, you'll know that you won't miss your opportunity to enjoy your time with your family.


APFM Staff Answers

Apr 09, 2015 - 08:12 AM

This truly depends on your Mom's condition and daily temperament as the stress of travel can heighten the difficulty of a situation but the short answer is...maybe. If you are comfortable talk with your Mom's Doctor. If your Mom wanders you will want to have a dedicated caregiver at all times. This would require you to perhaps lean on family members but less change to the caregiver the better. A few things to consider have your seats next to one another on the plane to hold her hand if she needs assurance. Also, separate hotel rooms would not be a good idea as disorientation might effect her behavior and mood. Another consideration is your Mom's reaction to the trip. Is she excited? That's a great place to start! Also, adjust your own expectations for the trip and how she might respond to it.



Feb 28, 2015 - 04:40 PM

How does she do when you take her out for a while?
Have you taken her out overnight?
You might want to do a "trial run" have her spend the night at your house if possible. See how she reacts in a strange enviroment. If she does well that might give you a clue as to how well she will travel.
If you are going to fly that might be another story airports can be very confusing (with or without dementia)
If you have to fly make as many arrangements in advance as possible. As for a wheelchair or transport to the gate and a transport to baggage from the plane when you land.
Make sure she has ID on her and not just in a purse she may leave that but an ID bracelet or necklace. (I have my husbands state ID attached to his walker.)
If the trial run does not work out realize you have done what you can and while she will be missed at the wedding she is probably safer and happier staying in her enviroment.
Large groups at weddings and parties with noise, lights, strange people, strange food and late nights can be very upsetting.

Feb 28, 2015 - 07:49 PM

We took my mom and dad on a trip about five hours away. Stayed 4 days and returned. Mom's confusion was greatly increased and it took about a month for her to feel settled at home again. That said, we did make some great memories for us and it gave dad a change and rest.

Jan 14, 2017 - 07:57 PM

We took Dad on an 18mo. trip, traveling the US and Alaska. He had dementia, and absolutely loved seeing the sights. It's not that he ever knew where we were, exactly, or how to find where our RV was parked on his own. It was like traveling with a 7-10 yr old child. We had to keep him in our sight, or at our side for his own safety, because he didn't always follow our directions. We had to look out "for him" in his in a public rest room where the light was on a timer attached to a motion detector. He took too long to finish his business in the rest room and all the lights went out. The poor man had to find his way out in total darkness. I was waiting outside the door, wondering what was taking so long. That day I learned to "check on him" a little more frequently.
Dad would find joy in the simplest of things and share those joys with us, like colored leaves, sea shells, rocks, clouds and plants and children. He would find joy in simply feeling the wind upon his face, or a taste of ice cream. Five years Dad was with us, his dementia progressing as the months passed. He was always up for a ride or a meal. We would not trade a single day of his presence. Maybe he couldn't find his way around our house, but He always found the joy and blessings in life. And so did we.
As you travel with your Mom, do treat her as a respected adult, but willingly look out for her as if she were a young chilld needing assistance and supervision. The time spent with your loved one may not always be 100% pleasant, but it will be honoring to her.
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