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How To Travel With Those With Dementia

A resident at Dolan Care enjoying a walk in a landscaped garden.

Family vacations can be truly special memories to treasure forever.  However, if one of your loved ones has Alzheimer’s or dementia, traveling may be an intimidating prospect.  

Good news: There are ways to travel that can make it fun, safe, and enjoyable for everyone! This article is full of dementia-friendly travel tips for your next vacation. 

Should people with dementia travel? 

To start off, you may be wondering if it’s even a good idea for those with memory impairments to travel, and if it’s really worth it.  

The short answer is yes and yes. Traveling can be safe and fun for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  And it can even provide cognitive benefits to boot! 

Especially for those with mild cognitive impairments, traveling can be a welcome change of scenery and do much more good than it does harm. Traveling to a new environment provides cognitive and sensory stimulation that is beneficial to dementia patients. 

How to plan a vacation for a loved one with dementia 

Traveling is certainly a worthwhile aspect of memory care, but it is important to keep the needs, preferences, and limitations of your loved one with dementia in mind.  This begins far before you leave for your trip.  Here are some important steps to follow when planning a dementia-friendly vacation. 

  • Don’t Over Schedule: You want to avoid planning too many activities. The last thing your loved one needs is added stress about running from one reservation to the next. Allow for rest time and flexibility in the schedule for your travels. 
  • Keep It Short: Each person is different so there isn’t one magic number of days to stick to.  But you know your loved one best.  Plan a trip that is a manageable length of time for both you and them.  Traveling for a really long time may be disruptive to your loved one’s schedule.  
  • Set Expectations: Everyone traveling should talk ahead of time to make sure you are all on the same page about realistic expectations for the trip. Make sure everyone is aware that things may not go perfectly, or they may need to be flexible about changing plans. 
  • Try a Trial Run: Finally, it can’t hurt to test the waters before diving in. Try a “test run” at a location close to home for a short amount of time. This can help you learn what aspects of travel may be stressful for your loved one, and better prepare for a bigger trip. 

Dementia-Friendly Travel Tips 

Here are a few other useful travel tips to keep in mind that could make your dementia-friendly trip go even smoother. 

First, be mindful about the mode of transportation you choose.  You should pick the mode of transport that is the most comfortable and induces the least anxiety.  For instance, flying may be the quickest option, but if your loved one has any fear about airplanes, an alternative like a train may be the better option. 

If you have any reservations at hotels or restaurants planned out, you should call ahead to let staff members know about the situation. It can be particularly helpful to alert hotel staff of your stay so they can assist if your loved one wanders off or gets confused. 

An individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia should always have a form of identification on them when traveling.  If anything were to happen, it will be much easier for people to provide the appropriate dementia care if they understand the situation.  Something like a medical bracelet or Alzheimer’s safe return bracelet is best. 

It will also be important for everyone in your group to remain calm if things don’t go to plan.  It’s unlikely the travels will go perfectly: There are too many factors outside your control.  Accepting that plans may change and staying calm in the face of any changes will prove to be extremely helpful. 

And last but certainly not least, remember to make the most of your time together!  Traveling with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia does require planning and vigilance.  But it can also be an extremely fun and rewarding experience for everyone! Cherish the good moments and embrace the memories you are making together. 

Now that you know how to travel with those with dementia, you’re ready to get started planning your next trip! Alzheimer’s care is about more than just meeting a dementia patient’s needs: It is also about providing them with life-enriching experiences like traveling to new places. With the above tips in mind, you can organize a fun and safe dementia-friendly vacation. 



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