Holiday Travel Tips for Families Facing Alzheimer’s

Everyone wants to visit with family for the holidays. However travel, whether short or long distances, can be hectic for just about everyone who does it, but it can be especially challenging for Floridians living with Alzheimer’s. While not all living with Alzheimer’s are able to travel, people living with early- and mid-stage Alzheimer’s often do want to attend family gatherings and holiday celebrations. Careful and thoughtful planning can help ensure safety, comfort and holiday enjoyment for everyone involved. 

When planning your holiday destination, consider these tips from the Alzheimer’s Association to provide for a more calming travel experience for someone living with Alzheimer’s:

  • Evaluate best mode of travel: Based on needs, abilities, safety and preferences, decide what would provide the most comfort and the least anxiety. If the destination requires air travel, the Alzheimer’s Association provides these tips on 
  • Pick a practical destination: Consider everyone’s needs and desires as you plan your trip and discuss the plan with the person living with dementia. Elaborate sightseeing trips or complicated tours may cause anxiety and confusion. And it is always important to consider destinations that have easy access to emergency health services and pharmacies. 
  • Simplify your travel itinerary: Try not to overload the person with a lot of directions or too much information.
    • Carry with you an itinerary that includes details about each destination. Give copies to family members or friends you will be visiting or to emergency contacts at home. 
    • Travel during the time of day that is best for the person. For example, if he or she becomes tired or more agitated in the late afternoon, avoid traveling at this time. 
    • Allow plenty of time for rest and don’t over-schedule.
  • Keep travel necessities close: If traveling by air, keep necessary medications, up-to-date medical information, a list of emergency contacts and photocopies of important documents in your carry-on baggage. For longer car trips, make sure water and snacks are available.
  • Brief your host: If you are staying with family or friends, make sure everyone knows what to expect. If you will be staying in a hotel, consider informing the staff ahead of time of your specific needs so they can be prepared to assist you. 
  • Be prepared: Environmental changes or new locations can cause anxiety and agitation in people with Alzhiemer’s. These events can also trigger wandering. Monitor your loved one closely for  signs of stress or confusion. Keep them close to you in crowded, unfamiliar places.  

“The holidays should be a fun and relaxing time for friends and family, including people living with dementia,” said Connie Storms, Alzheimer’s Association program manager for Citrus County. “By keeping your loved one’s needs top of mind for all travel decisions can allow for less stress and confusion and provide a joyous time for all.”

More travel tips can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association website at The Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline also provides reliable information and support to all those who need assistance. Call the helpline toll-free anytime, even holidays, at 1.800.272.3900. 

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