Memory Lane

Traveling is often stressful. Traveling with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease can ratchet up the anxiety exponentially. Advance preparation is essential. Here are some tips from Pasquale Fonzetti, MD, PhD, director of Burke Rehabilitation Hospital’s Memory and Evaluation Program:

Keep It Simple. Don’t plan a hectic tour of unfamiliar cities. If possible, visit a place the person knows or once knew. 

Do Not Let a Person With Alzheimer’s Travel Alone. In addition to memory loss, these patients may have visual or spatial dysfunction, and may become easily disoriented. 

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Make a List of Essentials for travel, including an updated record of all medications, emergency contacts, itinerary copies, and identification. 

Call Airlines and Hotels ahead of time to see if special accommodations can be made, such as pre-boarding to calm someone with dementia. 

Travel during the day when possible According to Sallie Carlin, executive director of Willows Gardens Memory Care at United Hebrew of New Rochelle, there are other things you can do to make traveling easier, too.

Bring Familiar Objects,  such as a book of photos or a favorite pillow.

Maintain Routines. A person with Alzheimer’s needs to understand where they are going every step of the way.

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Have a Back-Up Plan.  If your loved one becomes too agitated or confused, you may need to return home. 

Despite the challenges, traveling can be worth the effort. Vacations can trigger memory and positive emotions for those with dementia.