Travelling with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

Preparing to travel with medical conditions can be difficult and we want to make the whole process easier; so whilst we provide travel insurance cover, we’re here with information for you, from flights and transport to accommodation and activity. If you have Dementia or Alzheimer’s or are looking to travel alongside someone who does, this post will share tips on how to travel more comfortably so you or your companions are more comfortable from the get-go.

Dementia is a set of symptoms used to describe reoccurring issues with memory, problem-solving, language, and behaviour. The most common type is Alzheimer’s disease and can be described as a condition that affects a person’s thinking skills, memory, and ability to make decisions or speak clearly.

To some, the diagnosis of Dementia or Alzheimer’s might mean no longer being able to take part in activities such as travel but we want to highlight that this doesn’t always have to be the case. If organised well, the holiday experience can be just as enjoyable and also provide a whole range of benefits to a person with these conditions. Benefits can include, reconnection, memory improvement through experiencing past hobbies, and an increased sense of wellness.

When traveling with Dementia or Alzheimer’s it is important to consider where you can go, the paperwork you might need and the types of transport you want to use. Planning and taking notes ahead of time means stressing less about remembering important information, ensuring the best experience and ultimately, more time enjoying your time away.

Here’s a list of things to plan before heading away:

Location – Is the location you have chosen causing you excitement or stress? Will it be busy or is it a quieter place where you can easily get support if needed?

Documents – Do you have the right paperwork? Having digital access and buying tickets in advance might help you to keep confident while travelling.

Top Tip: If you struggle paying bills or handling money consider having contactless set up for easy access and less items to remember to carry on hand.

Holiday Duration – Planning how long you will stay away from home can bring comfort to someone who might find unfamiliar places stressful. It might also be easier to concentrate on safety and medical needs with a shorter holiday. For people with Dementia it may help to take the most direct routes to minimise discomfort in unfamiliar surroundings. 

Travel Insurance – Making sure you have travel insurance means a 24/7 helpline for support and reassurance that you are covered in the event of something going awry. Get in touch with us today to get award-winning travel insurance that will put you and your needs first and provide you with great value cover. 

Time of Year – Individual needs vary from person to person but for someone with Dementia new surroundings can be stressful. It is advised by The Alzheimer’s Society that travelling to your chosen destination during the quieter months (or ‘shoulder season’ when you can still make the most of the weather) could help adjust to the new environment and help find support easier if needed. 

Top Tip: Choosing to try day trips before taking longer holidays may also help to prepare for the new travel environments such as public transport and other unknown or unfamiliar destinations.

Checking Facilities: Getting in contact with your airline, chosen accommodation, and booked venues can help them prepare for your visit and provide you with anything that might help, plus you will then have the added reassurance that the team understands your specific needs.

If you’re travelling with someone who has Dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is so important to prepare in advance. Educating yourself on how the conditions might impact your experience, and planning how you will spend your time will create a more enjoyable experience for everyone. 

Tips include:

Learning Signs – Knowing the person well or caring for them before traveling can help you to understand their behaviour and reactions, and what might cause them agitation and anxiety so that you will know what to look out for whilst you’re away.

Top Tip: Those with Alzheimer’s tend to have less control over their bladder, situating yourself nearer the bathroom can help make the journey more comfortable. If you need to you can ring the airline, accommodation or venue prior to the date of your visit so they can help you as much as possible. 

Personal Triggers – Caring for the individual beforehand will also mean that you know their patterns, triggers and also what makes them feel comfortable so that you can provide this as best you can during your trip. Dementia can cause those suffering to take longer completing everyday tasks, to avoid triggering stress, arriving at destinations a little earlier can help give you both more time to get settled into a new environment.

Back-up Plans – If you know what their personal interests are, you can plan ahead, book activities they will enjoy, and have backup plans for if they start to become anxious in certain situations. These can include things like taking them to a familiar location, providing them with personal comforts, and practicing routine. 

Packing Essentials – It is important to pack the essentials, these could include necessary medications to help manage your condition, a comfortable change of clothes, and sentimental comforts such as family photographs and snacks for familiarity. People with Alzheimer’s tend to have difficulty with language and speech so carrying a lanyard (for example, the sunflower lanyard) can help others understand your situation and therefore give you the space and time you need.

It may also be helpful for you to check facilities, get in contact with staff beforehand and have the right documents to hand either as digital or physical copies. No matter your circumstances we know that a good holiday can be at the top of your list for your next adventure. Medical conditions shouldn’t have to hold you back and that’s why we work hard to cover 1000’s of medical conditions under our travel insurance policies, as well as supply those planning to get away with good advice for your trip.

If you are looking for dementia/alzheimer’s travel insurance, take a look at our dedicated alzheimer’s travel insurance page here.

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