Updated: Oct 2
I’ve been asked several times, “How do you travel with a person who has dementia?” My response is: make the trip as comfortable for that person as you possibly can.
Traveling with a dementia patient is manageable when you understand how he or she processes the world.
For mom and me, it means knowing and understanding her limits.
Over the years, I’ve learned that mom can tolerate being in a vehicle for about 2 to 2 and a half hours. Anything longer than that, she starts to get restless, and she’s not able to process where she is. So I try to keep that time frame in mind when I book travel.
If we need to take a longer flight, I always make sure that we have a layover that has sufficient time for us to stand up and stretch our legs, and that helps a lot. I also make certain that I take a sufficient amount of food with us so that she doesn’t get hungry on the journey.
Mom has a hard time processing sensations, so it’s up to me to watch her body language. That gives me clues as to what type of sensation she’s experiencing, and then I take steps to address it.
Flying also works for us because the cabin of a plane is generally pretty quiet. Mom sometimes has sensory overload when there’s too much light or too many sounds, so the white noise of the engines is also somewhat calming for her. And the last thing to help keep her comfortable is ensuring that she’s well-rested before we take our trip.
In the days leading up to our travel, I always make sure that she’s getting enough rest at night and that she’s comfortable during the day, so that on the day we’re traveling, which can be a little disruptive to her normal schedule, it’s not so disruptive that she becomes uncomfortable.
People with dementia experience the world differently, so it’s important to accommodate those understandings and make life as comfortable as possible so that you can both enjoy a trip.