As with many medical conditions, dementia doesn’t have to affect your ability to travel. If you have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you can still go abroad. You just have to spend a bit more time planning your trip to ensure it will be a safe, enjoyable one.
To help with your preparation, we’ve gathered some of the best advice on what to do, and what not to do, when you’re travelling abroad with dementia. Check out our suggestions:
Do choose somewhere familiar
Dementia can cause problems for people at home, so it’s no surprise a trip abroad can cause some anxiety. But in the early stages of dementia, the condition is unlikely to cause a problem. As your health deteriorates, unfamiliar places could easily become too overwhelming. So travel to places you’ll feel comfortable and stress-free, ideally somewhere you’ve been before and know well.
Don’t rush yourself
Travelling abroad normally involves flying. Although we don’t recommend this form of transport for people with advanced-stage dementia, it’s possible to fly with dementia. Planes can be disorientating, overwhelming and confusing though. So make sure to consider the following:
- Avoid long journeys where possible, as this can be disorientating
- Avoid multiple flights with tight connection times
- Inform the airline
- Consider a wheelchair for airport use, to help you to better navigate through the airport at peak times
- Give yourself plenty of time
Do take company
Any changes in environment can lead someone with dementia to wander off. The best thing you can do when travelling abroad is to take family or friends with you. They’ll ensure you’re not left alone for long periods of time, and can help you bring all the essentials too. These include medication, an itinerary, up-to-date medical information and emergency contact names and numbers. If you’ve always got this stuff with you, you’ll be able to get help if required.
You could also consider taking some pieces of assistive technology or aids that might help if with disorientation in an unfamiliar environment. These include memo minders, medication dispensers and location devices – the Alzheimer’s Society offers more guidance.
Don’t be worried about telling people
Airline and hotel staff can only provide additional help and support if you tell them about your condition. This includes having conversations upfront to ensure the holiday runs smoothly. Ask what provisions they make for guests with mental health challenges, and make them aware of the extent of your needs and behaviours that staff could be met with. If you’d prefer, you can get a carer, relative or friend to make these calls for you. Just check whether the cost of any special assistance is included in the price.
Have you travelled with someone with dementia? Share your advice with us.