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Support & Insight for the Autumn of Life

How to Travel with Alzheimer’s


Taking a person with Alzheimer’s on a short trip is a challenge. Traveling
can make the person more worried and confused, so it’s important to think ahead. Here
are some tips.

Plan Ahead

  1. Talk with the person’s doctor about medicines to calm someone who gets upset while traveling.
  2. Find someone to help you at the airport, train station, or bus station.
  3. Keep important documents with you in a safe
    place. These include health insurance cards,
    passports, doctors’ names and phone numbers,
    a list of medicines, and a copy of the person’s
    medical records.
  4. Pack items the person enjoys looking at or
    holding for comfort.
  5. Travel with another family member or friend.
  6. Take an extra set of clothing in a carry-on bag.

People with memory problems may wander around
a place they don’t know well. In case someone with Alzheimer’s disease gets lost:

  • Make sure the person wears an ID bracelet or something else that tells others who he or she is.
  • Carry a recent photo of the person with you on the trip.

After You Arrive

  1. Allow lots of time for each thing you want to do. Don’t plan too many activities.
  2. Plan rest periods.
  3. Follow a routine like the one you use at home. For example, try to have the person eat, rest,
    and go to bed at the same time he or she does at home.
  4. Keep a well-lighted path to the toilet, and leave the bathroom light on at night.
  5. Be prepared to cut your visit short if necessary.

Communicate with others when you’re out in public. Some caregivers carry a card that explains
why the person with Alzheimer’s might say or do odd things. For example, the card could
read, "My family member has Alzheimer’s disease. He or she might say or do things that are
unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.

Visiting Family and Friends

Spending time with family and friends is important to people with Alzheimer’s disease.
They may not always remember who people are, but they often enjoy the company.
Here are some tips to share with people you plan to visit:

  1. Be calm and quiet. Don’t use a loud voice or talk to the person with Alzheimer’s as if he or
    she were a child.
  2. Respect the person’s personal space,
    and don’t get too close.
  3. Make eye contact and call the person
    by name to get his or her attention.
  4. Remind the person who you are if he or
    she doesn’t seem to know you.
  5. Don’t argue if the person is confused.
    Respond to the feelings that he or she
    expresses. Try to distract the person by
    talking about something different.
  6. Remember not to take it personally
    if the person doesn’t recognize you,
    is unkind, or gets angry. He or she is
    acting out of confusion.

Have ready some kind of activity, such as a familiar book or photo album to look at.
This can help if the person with Alzheimer’s is bored or confused and needs to be
distracted. But be prepared to skip the activity if it is not needed.


  • Alzheimer’s Disease Education
    and Referral Center
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December 7, 2014 11:34 pm

I believe this will be very helpful to many travellers, especially over the Christmas holiday period. Thank you very much.
Reply to  rongablue
December 8, 2014 7:40 am

Glad to help out.

Ron and Eleanor's Newsletter
Ron and Eleanor's Newsletter
December 8, 2014 7:43 pm

On our way home now from a trip, employed many of these suggestions. Good outcome, except, I am exhausted!

December 14, 2015 1:53 am

I made him wear a red silicone medical alert wristband with our flight number and his seat number. He can still read but not clearly communicate. It helped him find his seat when he goes for a restroom break. I called the airline company ahead to request for a wheelchair passenger assist. It is easier that way, to ask help from the airport staff to bring us straight to the gate to avoid anxiety waiting for long lines at the TSA xray area and gives him more time and not being rushed.

December 15, 2015 1:25 am

Im traveling with husband he wanted a fitbit so I got him one I am concerned its a waste of money it sits on the counter

Assisted Living
Assisted Living
July 4, 2017 6:09 pm

Definitely a blessing to plan ahead and call in advance for assistance. It truly makes traveling with my 83 year old father much easier on my Mom.

December 8, 2017 1:36 am

Employed several suggestions for mom when she and dad visited for Thanksgiving. Taking her on a quiet walk gave us time together and her a break from the activity, and gave dad a chance to socialize.

December 9, 2019 1:56 pm

Know ahead of time that Rest rooms can be a problem if you are traveling with your spouse. "Family Rest Rooms" are your best friend but are not always available. If you are visiting "out of town", ask family/friends to scout out places where Family Rest Rooms are available and where they are located. Traveling by car? Know that not all Rest Areas have family Rest Rooms.

Reply to  juikfred
December 9, 2019 2:06 pm

The next time you use a public rest room, note how different the facilities are from your home bathroom and how they differ from rest room to rest room. Try to imagine how those (small to us, maybe) differences can confuse a victim of Alzheimers. It's likely a bigger deal than you think! If your loved one has no problems today, they WILL eventually. Like I said, a Family Rest Room can be your best friend.

B. Berger

B. Berger

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

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The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

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