Help Traveling with Dementia

Parent care is rarely easy and family members with dementia need special care. Often their daily needs range from subtle requests to overwhelming demands. Traveling with your aging mother can be very difficult so do not be shy about seeking help with your aging mother.

Geriatric Care Manager

These professional care takers offer an easier way to cope with the overwhelming task of caring for your loved one. They offer assistance in multiple ways. Specifically for traveling they can coordinate doctor's appointments, travel plans, and coordinate moving from an old facility to the new one

You have enough on your plate as it is, so letting them handle the health insurance garbage is worth every penny. The average fee is $150-275 for an initial assessment. From there some are hourly at $75-125, or offer a flat monthly fee of $200 - 800 depending on the circumstances.

If they need to be near you checkout providers, or ask around for referrals.

Nursing Homes

It is NOT facility care providers job to help you pack for a move or trip. These staffers take great care of your loved ones so don’t mistake them for a hired au pair.

Flying with Dementia

Maybe you travel for work or enjoy leisure travel. Flying with your aging mother will be nothing like what you are used to. Making adequate preparations and setting expectations will increase your chances of a smooth flight.

The Wheelchair and Airplane Assistance

Nursing homes and assisted living communities will have the care for your parent onsite. They are equipped to handle the wandering nature of dementia and prevent accidents from occurring.

What this means is that while you are flying you must keep track of your mom. Much like how a toddler can get swept up in the airport crowd your mother can wander off (assuming she’s mobile). If she is in a wheelchair that lowers the risk of wandering but there are still plenty of other landmines to avoid.

48 to 72 hours before you flight call your airline and request a wheelchair. The airline will handle the nitty gritty details. Be prepared to add extra time to your airport experience as they are in high demand.

Bring Food

There are going to be a lot of people in the airport. Do you really want to fight the lines of angry savages with your 80 year old mother in tow? Plan ahead and bring good travel foods like yogurt, crackers, and banana bread. Also remember if your mom is in a wheelchair the attendant only travels to/from gate terminals, so there will be no stops for food along the way.

Plan for extra time

It is tempting to try and minimize your time in the airport. While that’s an admiral goal you will regret the extra stress and potentially missing your flight. Aging parents do not always cooperate and their fragile nature makes going through security an extra hassle.

Avoid People

This is not a social experience. Find a quiet space and wait it out. Once they make the first call for families with children and the elderly step up to the line.

Mail your bags, or check them

Do not bring a carry on. Caring for your mom is the only item that needs attention. Either ship your bags from home care or check them with the airline.

Be prepared to negotiate

The new environment is going to potentially upset your mom. Her condition means that she likes stable environments and airports are filled with crazy chaos. Parents usually bring toys to distract their kids. Bring photo books or special items for your aging parent. Above all else bring a positive attitude and be prepared to negotiate unreasonable requests with a positive tone.

Driving with Dementia

Eight plus hours in a compact car could be a recipe for disaster. Follow the below tips and stay ahead of a meltdown.

Bring a friend or spouse

Tell your significant other that they must go and will likely drive. Sit in the backseat with your mom and be ready to handle requests along the way. If that’s not an option ask a good friend to help you and you drive while they entertain your mom. Don’t drive alone as you can’t manage any unexpected outbursts while on the road.

Stop often

Bathroom breaks are going to happen. Even as low as every 1-2 hours. If that really upsets you or you want to have extra peace of mind have your mom wear an adult diaper.

Do not take your eyes off them

When you stop for gas or a bathroom break take extra caution. A quick minute into the bathroom for yourself or to pay the gas bill is all the time it takes for your mom to wander away, or create a scene. Have your spouse or friend watch them while you answer natures call.

Checkout from time goals

This is not a race. There is no prize. Frame your mindset to have the trip take twice the time you are used to. That way you can better accommodate unexpected outbursts or slow moving.

Maybe hire a medical escort

In both flying or driving scenarios you can hire a medical personnel to travel with you. This nurse travel companion will handle any medical scenarios and can manage oxygen tanks. They can also make the judgement call when your mom MUST go to the hospital ASAP.

Some services say the cost is similar to another family member on the vacation (ie depends on the type of trip). You can even consider using them for vacation services that you are unable to go on (ie solo traveling).

Non Emergency Medical Transport with Dementia

Depending on the stage of Alzheimer's disease flying or driving simply might be too much for you to handle. There are many private medical transport providers. Both air and ground options are available and they come staffed with drivers and medical personnel. The cost is significantly higher than flying or driving but you get full peace of mind.

There are two notable advantages with these transport options. The first is that your mom’s health care is handled by professionals and the travel environment is stress free. The second is you can easily keep track of you mom. For some providers there are fewer stops and you stay right with your mom the entire distance.

Consider Travel Insurance

You put together a great plan, but at the end of the day anything can happen when you travel. Whether it’s a class 5 hurricane or a sudden illness these events affect your trip. There are several agencies that focus on this type of travel insurance for seniors.

Find your fit

Mom and dad deserve the best. They should be allowed to move near you or to visit. Find the right fit for you and make sure to get the help you need.