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Top Travel Tips When You’re Travelling with Dementia

Travelling with dementia is challenging, especially if you’re the primary caregiver of someone living with dementia. Therefore, we wanted to share how you can make a holiday happen this Dementia Action Awareness Week and beyond…
Holidays don’t just have a positive impact on the well-being of people with dementia. They’re good for everyone’s health and mental wellbeing.
At Free Spirit, we believe that travel frees our spirit and everyone should have the freedom to travel – no matter their age, disability, or medical condition. So, here are our tips to help you travel with confidence – when travelling with a companion or loved one with dementia…

Where can I go travelling with dementia?

Creating a suitable holiday for a person with dementia will depend upon their symptoms and daily routine. Yet, if you talk to them and focus on what’s important in their life such as their interests, preferences, and holiday memories you can create a meaningful one. Also, picking a familiar destination should reduce anxiety too.

For instance, you could plan a staycation to relax in the countryside or explore a city. In fact, recent research by the the RiDC has looked at how a visit to some of London’s top venues could be improved and made more accessible for people living with dementia. So, don’t hold back. Initiatives are being put in place all the time to enhance the quality of life for people living with dementia , as well as their carers such as BikeWorks All-Ability Cycle Club.

On the other hand, you could stay with friends or family who’ll be familiar. This would ignite happy memories. While you’re there, it’s important your hosts understand the needs of your loved one. Ensure they’re aware of any important limitations or difficulties they might experience. Especially if they want to help care for them to give you a break. That isn’t to say they must become specialist carers overnight. Just let them know what has changed and what care is needed. 

Overall, an extra pair of hands and eyes will ensure that your loved one with dementia feels safe and supported while you’re given some time to relax.

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Some companies offer holidays created for people with dementia and their carers. These include options with activities and support for carers as well as expert care for those with the condition. During these holidays everyone can enjoy an escape from the everyday. Take a look at Dementia Adventure and Tourism for All to find out more.

Wherever you go, select accommodation close to emergency health services for peace of mind. Then before leaving home, follow our travelling with dementia checklist…

travelling with dementia to the beach


9 Things to do before travelling with dementia

1: Speak to a GP about your holiday plans. They can share extra advice about travelling with dementia and arrange extra medication for when you travel.

2: Someone with dementia may find new destinations confusing. To reduce any stress, plan the route and keep to their usual routine.

3: Think about the change in the environment. New environments can trigger people with dementia to go wandering or become confused. So, it’s wise to enrol in a 24/7 wandering response service. This emergency response service provides emergency medical treatment. Plus, the safe return of individuals living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

4: Is there a time of day that your companion with dementia becomes tired or agitated? Try to arrange travel when it’s best for them.

5: Make sure you know their warning signs of anxiety. If you can identify the signs, you can create a strategy to reduce them. Then, discuss the strategy with them.

6: When staying in a hotel inform their staff of any requirements you’ll need. You might be offered extra assistance.

7: When it comes to taking medication, there are plenty of electronic memory aids available. For instance, an automatic dispenser or personal alarm that beeps when medication needs to be taken can make remembering medication easier while away from home.

8: Pick the most comfortable mode of transport to create the least anxiety. You can do so by focusing on the needs, abilities, safety, and preferences of your companion.

9: Pack noise-cancelling headphones. They’re a great travel investment for someone with dementia. They can help create a quiet space when there are a lot of unfamiliar noises or activities, such as in an airport.

If you like the sound of air travel, view the following tips when travelling with dementia…

wear noise-canceling headphones when travelling with dementia


7 Tips for travelling with dementia by air

1: Let your airline and departing airport know in advance that you’ll be flying with someone who has dementia. Some airlines need specific medical information about passengers with conditions that may affect their ability to fly.

2: When booking a flight, work with a travel agent or the airline. You’ll be able to ask if a “meet-and-greet” service can be provided, to escort everyone at ease. Also, you can ensure that all your requirements can be met.

3: Avoid flights with tight connections. Travelling through airports can be distracting and overwhelming, due to high levels of activity.

4: Allow extra time to travel from home to your boarding gate to help make the experience an enjoyable one.

5: While on the route and throughout the airport, try not to give a lot of information and directions at once. Break them down for a calmer travelling experience.

6: Always ask for help if you need it. For instance, a wheelchair can help you navigate through security checkpoints quicker. In turn, any stresses will subside.

7: When onboard the plane, if your companion needs help in the bathroom, seek out companion care bathrooms for ease. The cabin crew can’t assist passengers who’re unable to look after their personal and physical needs during a flight.

Also, some UK airports, including Heathrow, are taking steps to become ‘dementia-friendly’ airports. This includes training their staff to be aware and ready to help passengers who have dementia. When you arrive at your destination remember to…


Relax and enjoy your holiday

Give yourselves extra time to do different activities. A holiday is a time for everyone to relax not just travellers with dementia. Although, it’s a good idea to share your itinerary and destination details with your an emergency contact before leaving home.

ice cream tasting

Take a daily photo

While you’re travelling, get into the habit of taking a photo of your travel companion with dementia on your phone. This can be extremely useful if they’re separated from you during your trip. Make sure to take both a close-up of their face and a wide-angle image that shows what they’re wearing. That way you can show people around you exactly who you’re looking for.

You could also give your companion, an ID bracelet that has a brief description of their condition and contact details. This would help you find each other again.

For everything else, there’s Free Spirit travel insurance. A great backup in the event that your trip changes.


Free Spirit Travel Insurance for dementia

We hope that the advice and tips above will give you the confidence to travel with your companion or loved one, who lives with dementia soon. Whether they’re in the early stage or not. From understanding the symptoms of dementia, Free Spirit can provide affordable cover for everyone travelling with the condition. Plus, with each Free Spirit Policy, cover is provided for the whole party. This means that you all can travel with peace of mind.

Learn more about Free Spirit Travel Insurance for dementia.


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