Dear Donna,

My dad is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Our family reunion is coming up, and we are nervous about traveling. It will be his first trip away from home since his diagnosis.

How can I keep my dad safe and comfortable while traveling? We all want very much for him to be able to attend.


Jan from Traverse City, MI

Traveling with a Senior Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s

Dear Jan,

Traveling with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Often, it just requires a little extra planning. By understanding their stressors and using strategies to keep them at ease, caregivers can make traveling a positive experience for everyone involved. Here are a few tips for traveling with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

4 Alzheimer’s Travel Tips

  1. Plan ahead.

When traveling with a person with Alzheimer’s, understand it may take longer to get places and accomplish specific tasks. Leaving extra time for each activity can help you feel at ease if something goes wrong. You might even want to invest in a GPS bracelet or pendant, which can locate them quickly if they wander.

  1. Choose the right travel method.

Mode of transportation is one of the most important factors to consider when traveling with a loved one who has dementia. Try to pick a method they will find comfortable.

Familiar and relaxed modes of transportation, like a car or even a train, tend to be good choices. Trains can also be a good option because they allow you to sit together. Because you are not driving, you can focus on your loved one’s safety. By contrast, air travel can be quite stressful.

  1. Be mindful of when you travel.

Timing is another key factor. Sticking to a routine can help reduce anxiety in seniors with dementia. Try your best to maintain their schedule as closely as possible. For example, eat meals and go to bed at the usual time. Try to avoid traveling in the evening, especially if your loved one experiences sundowning. Travel during hours when they are in their best mood. This is usually in the morning or earlier part of the day.

  1. Have important documents handy.

It’s also helpful to have important documents ready in case of emergency. This includes a list of your loved one’s medications and dosages, their doctor’s name, and emergency contact information. Bullet cards summarizing their special needs to share with transportation and hotel personnel may also help.

Evaluate Your Loved One’s Abilities

Before planning a trip, evaluate your loved one’s ability to travel. Seniors in the early stages of the disease may have an easier time leaving home than those in later stages. If your loved one struggles with traveling, decide whether the trip is necessary. Is the event going to make them upset or cause them a great deal of discomfort? If so, it may be best to let them sit it out.

I hope these tips make traveling easier for you and your senior loved one with Alzheimer’s.



Respite Care in Michigan

If your senior loved one isn’t up for traveling, you may want to consider respite care services, such as those provided at Heritage Senior Communities. You can enjoy your trip knowing your loved one is safe. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a private tour.