• Julie Katz

Dementia and traveling

Six Considerations

Family friends took their father with dementia to their granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah in another state. During and after the trip, which his wife described as "hell", his dementia seemed to worsen even when they were back at home.

Obviously, stability and familiarity are better for someone with dementia.

How do you evaluate when it is better for the person with dementia to stay home, even if it means missing a family milestone event?

1. Stage of dementia: Someone with early stage dementia may be able to travel easily, while you should not consider it for someone in the later stages, regardless of the event.

2. Length of travel and length of trip. If you are only going two hours away to a child's birthday party, there may not be an issue, but an international flight is totally different. Don't forget time zone changes can add to confusion. Plus, a week away will be much worse than a long weekend.

3. Method of travel. Studies have found that changes in oxygen levels in airplanes can add to confusion of those with dementia. Drive if you can.

4. Your destination. If you are traveling back to a city where they grew up, it might even be comforting to them, verses a city they have never been to before.

5. The purpose of your trip. A crowded wedding or Bar Mitzvah with loud music and lights may be too much. Consider attending only the ceremony.

6. Your sanity. Can you take a long road trip with repeated questions of where you are headed and constant reassurance when you get there.

Traveling with someone with dementia is an individualized decision based on many factors. What worked last year may be out of the question this year.

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