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Travel Guidelines for People with Memory Disorders
By Geri Richards Hall, PhD, ARNP, CNS, FAAN

(Page 2 of 4)

What can be done in case of emergency? Do you know of medical services in the areas you travel to? Do you need to take special medications with you in case of agitation? Having a plan can save hours of stress and panic.

What are the care receiver's limitations and strengths?
As a general rule, the more advanced the disease, the more difficult travel will be. For example, care receivers who are still relatively independent and care for themselves will have fewer problems with travel than someone who requires direction to bathe and change their clothing. Also, people with behavioral problems such as paranoia or delusions (missed perceptions, fears, or fixed false beliefs or thoughts) have a more difficult time even when intellectual skills are relatively good.

As a rule, someone who requires assistance with bathing, changing clothing, dressing, and toileting will have significant difficulty even with short, simple overnight trips. At time when it may be easier for retired people to visit adult children who work, it may be better to have the children visit you—even if it means paying for their travel.

Care receivers who exhibit any of the following behaviors should avoid overnight travel unless in an emergency:

  • Become physically or verbally aggressive
  • Missed perceptions, have paranoid thoughts, hallucinations, or delusions (for example, think people steal from them)
  • Become confused during or after social outings
  • Wake at night confused
  • Have poorly managed incontinence (or who require special assistance or equipment with feeding if public dining rooms must be used)
  • Have episodes where they do not recognize their caregiver
  • Fall
  • Yell, scream, or cry spontaneously
  • Resist or argue with their caregiver's directions
  • Wander or pace
  • Demand to leave social settings or restaurants early
  • Are easily frightened, confused or agitated
  • Are unable to communicate their needs to others
  • Have unstable medical conditions

Assess the caregiver's limitations
There are also caregiver-related issues to be considered. Caregivers should avoid traveling with their impaired person if they (the caregiver) have any of the following characteristics:

  • Become upset or can not manage well during a crisis
  • Are embarrassed when their loved one acts out or does something embarrassing
  • Have unstable or complicated health problems
  • Are embarrassed to go into an opposite sex restrooms to supervise their loved one
  • Are unable to manage in high stress situations or with little sleep
  • Insist on maintaining strict honesty and argue with their loved one about mistakes and missed perceptions


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