Traveling with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be stressful for both the individual and his or her caregiver. Of course, whether a person with dementia is able to travel depends on the severity of his or her condition, the distance traveling, and the caregiver’s ability to meet his or her needs. If travel plans require long flights and multiple airports, medical escort companies may be able to provide the assistance patients and caregivers need to travel safely and comfortably.
Before making travel arrangements for a person who has dementia, it’s wise to carefully consider the reasons for traveling, and to brainstorm all the changes in routine, schedules and environments that could occur. Will the person who has dementia be traveling to a familiar location to visit friends or relatives? Would he or she be able to bring along familiar items? Could family members travel to the patient’s hometown instead?
For caregivers who would like or need to travel with a person who has dementia, particularly in the early stages, here are a few suggestions:
Try to maintain routines. This will require planning ahead, from packing favorite foods to eating at familiar restaurants to traveling through familiar airports. If the trip involves visiting friends or family members, consider staying with them instead of a hotel if the person who has dementia would find the surrounding familiar or comforting. The host must also be prepared for their own change in routine.
Purchase an ID bracelet or necklace. This step could reduce fear and confusion if a loved one wanders or gets separated from traveling companions. Also tuck a list of medical information, including prescriptions medicines and phone numbers for medical providers, in the loved one’s wallet or purse.
Keep essentials close by. This should include a bag with a change of clothes, a travel itinerary, emergency contact information, snacks, water and a small comfort item.
Bring all travel documents. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these documents should include contact information for a patient’s doctors, a list of all medications and dosages, a travel itinerary, insurance information, contact phone numbers and email addresses for key family members, and copies of legal papers and health directives.
Limit time in airports. Airport travel can be stressful for anyone. When making travel arrangements, try to keep layovers short and limit connecting flights whenever possible. Also, avoid choosing flights that have tight connections or a history of delays.
Pack more than the essentials. Be prepared for changes in weather and temperature and pack accordingly. In addition, leave room in a carryon bag or suitcase for comfort items, such as a favorite lap blanket, pillowcase or bathrobe.
Go over the details. If traveling by plane, go online or call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) several days in advance to learn about the screening process and ask questions. That will allow for time to discuss the process several times with the person who has dementia.
Ask for help. Don’t be reluctant to let hotel or airport employees know about the special accommodations a person with dementia may need, such as assistance with airport transportation and screening, or a wheelchair.
How Medical Escort Companies Can Help
Hiring a medical escort to accompany a traveler who has dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can help reduce stress for patients and their caregivers. Trained medical escorts can help patients and their caregivers navigate the complexities of long-distance travel, including the airport screening process. Medical escort companies can also assist in making travel arrangements and match patients with a medical escort who can accompany a patient and his or her family member throughout the journey.
When a family member is not available to travel with a patient, professional medical escorts can fill that role and provide necessary medical care during long-distance travel.
Finding a skilled, trained medical escort will help ensure that patients and family members can arrive at their destination safely and in comfort. SentinelMED provides medical transport, medical repatriation, and medical escort services to help navigate the complexities of long-distance travel for senior adults and other patients.
In addition to arranging medical escort services, the SentinelMED team can arrange door-to-door care and transportation from discharge at a hospital or medical facility to a receiving health care facility or to a family member who is able to assume their care.
The SentinelMED team understands the complexity of delivering exceptional care to patients who need assistance during travel. Please contact us to learn more about the services that SentinelMED offers or its staff.