By Geri Richards Hall, PhD, ARNP, CNS, FAAN
- Advise hotels, airlines, tour operators, or
people you are visiting that you are traveling with
someone with memory impairment. Be specific about
your safety concerns and special needs. If you are
staying in a private home, guest home, or bed and
breakfast, do not surprise your overnight host with
your loved one's condition. Explain it fully, well
in advance. Do not think they won't notice. Don't be
upset if they feel they cannot handle the
visit—especially if there are children in the home.
- Never travel without a full set of reservations.
- Always provide family members with an itinerary
and call home regularly.
- Make a list of the daily routine and special
items you need to take with you.
Always have the person with memory loss identified,
preferably with a bracelet your loved one cannot
- Use good judgment when telling your loved one
about the trip. Discussing it too far in advance may
produce anxiety and agitation.
- Be flexible. Have a contingency plan that allows
you to leave early if your loved one becomes ill,
agitated, or wants to go home.
Keep your sense of humor and laugh at all the things
that happen. They will be part of a wonderful memory
of your travels together.
If the trip is prolonged, develop a list of medical
- Alzheimer's Association chapters along your
- Never leave your loved one alone or ask
strangers to watch him/her. A person who does not
know your loved one or the disease will not know how
to react in a difficult situation.
- Avoid traveling at peak travel seasons such as
Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Take medications with you to manage stomach
upset, diarrhea, or other temporary problems caused
by changes in food and water.
- Know how to get help and who can help in
countries where you do not speak the language.
- Check the Yellow Pages to see if there is a
travel agent in your area specializing in planning
trips for people with disabilities. If so, use the
Dr. Geri Richards Hall has been a
professor and practitioner in the field of geriatrics
and nursing for many years and has written many articles
about memory disorders and caregiving. She currently
serves as Associate Professor (Clinical), Director
Master's Programs and Advanced Practice Nurse Memory
Disorders Clinic at the University of Iowa . Caregivers
may download the full text of the travel guide brochure
and about five other booklets related to dementia
management from the University of Iowa Center on Aging