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Vacations and Dementia

June 25, 2015

By Editor
The long-awaited summertime season finally here. With it comes the anticipation of family trips, excursions with friends and (hopefully) plenty of time for sightseeing.  For many individuals caring for someone with dementia however, vacations may seem out of the question as unfamiliar surroundings can trigger negative and even aggressive behaviours in the family member with the disease. Here are some suggestions for those traveling with someone with dementia, particularly if they are in the earlier stages, so that you can still enjoy all your summer travel plans with minimized stress.

Take Precautions in the Event the Person Wanders
The possibility that their loved one with dementia could wander and get lost is a constant worry for caregivers. As the risk of wandering is greatest when the person with dementia is unfamiliar with his or her surroundings, having the person equipped with an identification kit that includes basic identification, medical records and emergency contact information can help police and emergency responders to quickly identify the person in the event of wandering. MedicAlert Safely Home is a nationwide program designed to help identify the person who is lost and assist in a safe return home. A centralized database stores the member’s personal and medical information that allows first responders quick and valuable access to that important information should a person wander from family members.

Ask Staff for Help
If you are planning on using air travel, and/or staying in a hotel, you may wish to notify airport and hotel staff ahead of time that you will be traveling with someone with dementia so that they can assist you with any specific needs, such as early boarding or requiring a wheelchair upon arrival. Choosing nonstop rather than connecting flights or hotel rooms with generous room dimensions may also ease traveling with someone with dementia.

Simplify Your Itinerary
Persons with dementia often tend to cope best when following a routine in a familiar environment - something that travel disrupts. When deciding where to travel, consider destinations that may be familiar to your loved one and consider activities that involve as few changes in the person’s daily routine as possible. It is also helpful you avoid anything with a strict timeframe in the instance the individual becomes agitated and has to be removed from the situation. By being realistic and flexible, you can turn even the simplest, smallest excursions into an adventure
Traveling with someone who has dementia does not have to be impossible. With some careful planning, slight modifications and an open mind, you and your loved one can still enjoy the summer season and see where your travel plans take you!
For more tips on travel with a person with dementia, visit and enter the word ‘travel’ into the search bar