traveling with dementia

How to Make Traveling with Dementia Work: A Caregivers Guide

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Traveling with dementia can be a challenging and stressful experience for both the person with dementia and their caregivers. It is important to plan carefully and consider the needs and abilities of the person with dementia to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Traveling with someone who has Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body Dementia, or other types of dementia can be difficult. It is important to research the traveling options thoroughly and weigh the pros and cons carefully. Taking into account both the individual’s abilities and limitations will make traveling easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

It could mean planning shorter trips, staying closer to home so help is easily accessible, or traveling with a caregiver. Planning ahead of time is key if you are traveling with someone who has dementia. This information will give you confidence in making the right decisions and help ensure everyone stays safe while on the trip.

Traveling with Dementia on a Plane

Special boarding accommodations are offered by many airlines that are dedicated to making traveling with dementia as comfortable as possible.

When traveling with someone who has dementia, plane travel can be an especially stressful form of transportation. It’s important to prepare ahead of time to help make the process as smooth as possible.

Start by researching the airline policies regarding traveling with dementia, including any special procedures or resources that may be provided. During the flight, make sure your loved one follows the printed instructions in case of an emergency.

Don’t worry about making frequent bathroom stops. Most airports allow for an attendant to help accompany the person to use a private restroom away from the public areas. When using the bathroom on the plane, you should be able to go in with them or stand outside the door.

Special boarding accommodations are offered by many airlines that are dedicated to making traveling with dementia as comfortable as possible. These special boarding policies often involve shorter lines, priority seating closer to the front of the plane, and an extra helping hand from airport staff. This can make the journey much easier and less traumatic for those traveling with dementia since they’re already navigating strange environments and routines on board.

Make sure you have all necessary medications on hand and keep track of the flight time and any connecting flights.

Traveling with Dementia by Car

Traveling with dementia can seem like a daunting task, especially if traveling by car. Ensuring that the journey and destination are as safe as possible is key to traveling with dementia by car.

Remember to plan ahead and make sure you know the exact route so you don’t get lost. Make sure to map out rest stops, bathrooms, etc. along the way just in case, and find out which route is smoothest. Consider using an app or GPS for navigation along the way. But still review plans and directions prior to traveling with dementia.

Finally, ensure that all medication is taken on time and monitored while traveling with dementia by car so as not to miss any needed doses or have them taken too closely together! It may sound simple — but don’t forget to bring easy to access water.

Since people with dementia can at any time become paranoid or delusional, it is best to have the doors locked at all times. Have a trusted companion if taking a longer trip. It should be someone who knows all of the safety measures when traveling with someone who has dementia.

Staying in a Hotel

Staying in a hotel can add some extra stress to the situation. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience if you plan ahead! To make sure that your stay is comfortable and safe, you’ll want to bring familiar items from home like photos, blankets and pillows.

It’s also a good idea to alert staff of your traveling companion’s condition. This will help them be able to offer their assistance as needed.

Make sure that the hotel room is handicap accessible if needed. This will help make navigation around the room easier. It’s also important to locate exit routes, elevators, and other amenities that might be of use while staying in a hotel.

Finally, when it comes time to checkout, make sure you’ve accounted for all personal belongings before departing. This is especially important when traveling with dementia since it can be easy to forget some items behind!

Make sure the hotel room door is locked at all times. Bring a special lock for the door if one is not provided. There are easy-to-use locks that fit most doors and provide peace of mind while in your hotel room

One time when we stayed in a hotel. My husband woke up in the middle of the night. He desperately wanted out of the room and I could not reason with him. He was able to get the hotel locks open and went out into the hallway with nothing but his underwear on. I couldn’t physically stop him. He went all the way down the hall. I eventually got him back in the room. It was very traumatizing. I will never travel without a special lock again!


Bring a medical alert device that can be worn in case of emergency. Make sure the hotel staff has your contact information in case of an emergency.

Going on a Cruise with Someone with Dementia

Going on a cruise with someone with dementia can be a great way to spend quality time together. But there are certain considerations to consider for a safe traveling experience. It is wise to plan ahead and be aware of potential issues that could arise during the trip.

Staying organized will be key when traveling with someone who has dementia. When packing, remember that it’s better to bring supplies from home as opposed to figuring out where new items can be acquired along the way.

Furthermore, make sure that you have all necessary documents, such as passports and other identification papers ready for boarding.

Keep regular communication with traveling companions who are traveling with you and check in regularly before, during, and after the cruise activity.

During the cruise itself, it’s important to remain vigilant in keeping an eye out for any changes needed in someone’s care schedule. Be sure to have easily recognizable badges or clothing they can wear that identifies them as having dementia and requiring special attention if needed.

Research the cruise line and any accommodation options that may be available for those with dementia-related conditions. Before traveling, your cruise line can provide you with a “passport” which allows them to identify your traveling companion should they get lost or separated from you while onboard.

Ask whether they have any specific policies geared towards traveling with someone who has dementia such as providing private seating options or offering escort services if needed.

Medical Services Should be Closeby

You don’t want to be caught in an unfamiliar place without easy access to medical services. It’s always best to research the places you’re traveling to and make sure you have access to doctors or hospitals if needed. Otherwise traveling could quickly become a dangerous situation.

Knowing local medical facilities can also provide peace of mind. It will help you enjoy adventurous trips with fewer worries about medical issues arising along the way.

Consider Having Cards Explaining the Dementia to Others

Investing in business cards that kindly explain why your loved one might be operating at a slower pace than usual can make traveling among strangers smoother. Handing out these cards which simply say something like, “my loved one has dementia, please be patient,” falls in line with respectful communication. They are designed to help those within the traveling party feel more understood.

In addition to providing the card upon entering an area such as a restaurant or hotel, keep some on hand for unexpected encounters on planes or other places. You can hand them out when you come into contact with people who don’t already know about your traveling companion’s condition.

General Tips for Traveling with Dementia

  1. Plan ahead: Make sure to plan your trip well in advance to allow plenty of time to prepare and make necessary arrangements. Consider the person’s abilities and needs, as well as any specific accommodations that may be necessary.
  2. Consider the mode of transportation: If the person with dementia is able to travel by plane, it is important to inform the airline of their condition. This will allow the airline to make any necessary accommodations, such as providing additional assistance during boarding and disembarkation.
  3. Keep to a routine: Maintaining a familiar routine can be helpful for a person with dementia. Try to stick to the person’s usual routine as much as possible, including mealtimes and bedtimes.
  4. Bring familiar items: Bring along familiar items, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. It can help the person with dementia feel more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.
  5. Use clear and simple language: It is important to speak clearly and use simple language when communicating with a person with dementia. Avoid using technical or complex terms that may be confusing.
  6. Consider the destination: Choose a destination that is suitable for the person with dementia. Consider factors such as the climate, accessibility, and proximity to medical care.
  7. Pack plenty of supplies: Make sure to bring along any necessary medications, as well as extra supplies such as incontinence products, in case of delays or unexpected circumstances.
  8. Make sure to get enough rest: Traveling can be tiring, especially for a person with dementia. Make sure to schedule enough rest stops and allow plenty of time for the person to rest and recharge.
  9. Don’t overschedule: It is important not to pack too much into a trip. It can be overwhelming for a person with dementia. Stick to a manageable schedule and allow plenty of time for rest and relaxation.
  10. Don’t neglect the person’s safety: Make sure to keep the person with dementia safe at all times. This may include using a GPS tracker or keeping a close eye on them when in unfamiliar surroundings.
  11. Don’t ignore the person’s needs: It is important to be attuned to the person with dementia’s needs and be prepared to adjust the trip accordingly. This may include modifying the itinerary or providing additional support as needed.
  12. Don’t forget to take breaks: Make sure to take regular breaks throughout the trip to allow for rest and rejuvenation. This will help reduce stress and fatigue. It will provide an opportunity for the person with dementia to orient themselves in unfamiliar surroundings.
  13. Have identification on the person with dementia at all times. This can be an ID bracelet or necklace.

When is traveling with someone with dementia not safe?

When traveling with someone who has dementia, safety should always be a priority. Unfortunately, this can become an issue when dementia is too far advanced.

While it varies from person to person, some common signs that traveling might no longer be safe include confusion or forgetfulness of basic needs such as meal times, bathroom breaks, and sleeping schedules. In other instances, they may become confused by rapid changes in their environment. Things like taking multiple airplanes in one trip or traveling to different cities make it difficult for them to remain calm and organized throughout the journey.

Some other signs that traveling with dementia may not be safe are:

  • Their mobility has decreased significantly.
  • They demonstrate behaviors such as wandering off.
  • They become overly anxious or agitated in new places.
  • They have an inability to follow basic safety rules while traveling (such as fastening seatbelts).
  • They start to forget who you are and why you are traveling together.

While traveling with someone with dementia may still be possible in these cases, additional assistance should be sought or trips cut short to ensure their safety.

Try a Short One-night Trip to See how they Adapt

Taking a short one-night trip in your own town or a short distance away with someone who has dementia may seem like an intimidating endeavor. But it can be a great way to see how traveling with dementia works before attempting a longer journey.

This shorter trial run will let you know if the person will be comfortable traveling. It will give you useful tips and techniques on traveling with dementia that you can use during a longer trip. Keep the activities simple so you can get an idea of what will work best for future excursions.

Ultimately, traveling with someone with dementia will depend on their individual condition and tolerance levels. If there are any doubts about traveling alongside them safely and comfortably it’s best to consult with a doctor who knows them well before deciding.


Traveling with dementia can be both challenging and rewarding. With a bit of planning and preparation, it is possible to enjoy a safe and comfortable journey. Take the time to plan ahead. Consider the needs of the person with dementia, pack plenty of supplies, and make sure to get enough rest. Additionally, having realistic expectations can help maintain a positive outlook during difficult times. By following these tips and avoiding common pitfalls, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone involved.

traveling with dementia
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Elizabeth Crane

Elizabeth Crane grew up not wearing a helmet, drinking from the hose and not wearing a seat belt. She managed to survive and now spends her time developing websites, drinking coffee, and eating chocolate.