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10 Caregiver Tips for Traveling With Alzheimer's

Written by Alissa Sauer
 about the author
3 minute readLast updated April 21, 2023

Family vacations, whether during the summer or holiday seasons, are meant to be fun and relaxing. These vacations can turn stressful, however, for caregivers who are traveling with a parent or senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Your parent may feel disoriented and confused away from their familiar surroundings. Although it can be overwhelming, foresight and proper preparation make it possible. Learn more from these caregiver tips for traveling with Alzheimer’s.

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Should your parent with Alzheimer’s travel?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with symptoms worsening over time. No matter if you’re traveling a short distance for a family reunion or planning a longer vacation, carefully weigh the pros and cons of traveling with a loved one with the disease.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s and with the right preparation, traveling in the summer can still be enjoyable. However, as the disease progresses, travel may simply become too overwhelming.
When planning your vacation, consider these factors:
  • Can you and your loved one travel comfortably and safely?
  • Do you have a support system available for your loved one when you arrive?
  • Is the destination a familiar one to your loved one?
  • Will the trip be too disorientating for your loved one?

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Top 10 tips for traveling with Alzheimer’s

Once you decide you can make the trip safely, here are 10 ways caregivers can lessen the stress of traveling with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s:

1. Allow extra time

Whether driving in a car or taking a flight, keep in mind that your loved one may need extra time to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Stay patient with them and allow plenty of time to make travel less stressful.

2. Be sure your loved one is wearing an identification bracelet

This is especially important for seniors who may wander. If you do not have an ID bracelet for them, put their name on their clothing and be sure they have your number and a list of medical conditions in their wallet.

3. Carry important documents and medications with you

These documents should include emergency contact information, a list of current food allergies, medications, and physician information. Also, have your travel itinerary and insurance information readily available.

4. Consider hiring a medical transport service

If your travel needs are imminent and you cannot leave a loved one in respite care but anticipate travel will be extremely difficult, consider hiring a medical transport service. These professionals can provide air and ground transportation and many will allow a caregiver or small pet to accompany your loved one.

5. Consider staying in a hotel rather than with relatives

A hotel can give your loved one a calm place to go when the trip becomes hectic. They may also be able to stick to their routine better in a hotel. In addition, some family members may not be familiar with Alzheimer’s and might not know what to expect. Be sure to make the hotel staff aware of any special needs in advance.

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6. Create an itinerary for emergency contacts

Make your own itinerary for yourself and your loved one and distribute it to family and friends while also keeping a copy with you at all times. The itinerary should detail your emergency phone numbers, flight numbers, medication needs, travel times, and any other pertinent information. Keep it easily accessible to quickly find which can make the day of travel much smoother.

7. Keep surroundings as familiar as possible

People with Alzheimer’s often have difficulty in new environments, so try to bring familiar things from home on your trip (i.e., blankets, pajamas and pillows). Try to keep their routine the same to avoid confusion.

8. Keep travel time to less than four hours

If your drive or flight is longer than four hours, be sure to have at least two caregivers present. Have activities and photos prepared to keep your loved one busy during the travel time.

9. Limit connections and layovers

Try to take a direct flight to your destination to avoid a tight connection, further distress, and a missed flight. Many airlines will allow you to pre-board which will give your loved one more time to adjust to their new surroundings.

10. Set realistic expectations

People with Alzheimer’s need consistency, so it’s often easier to travel with someone in the earlier stages of the disease. If your loved one exhibits delusional or disinhibited behavior, physical or verbal aggression, has a high risk of falling, or has unstable medical conditions it may be a better idea to find fun locally.


Meet the Author
Alissa Sauer

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.